A range of courses take place in Jacobs Hall. The Jacobs Institute’s expert instructors offer interdisciplinary Design Innovation (DES INV) courses, which include both lower-division entry points to design skills and project-based capstone experiences. Jacobs Hall also hosts courses taught by faculty in a range of departments, as well as student-led DeCals that focus on design. These offerings contribute to a highly diverse, frequently evolving educational environment.
Fall 2023 courses are listed below. Looking for other academic information? To learn about courses taught in other semesters, visit the course archive. For questions about enrollment in DES INV courses, consult our course enrollment policies.
This introductory course aims to expose you to the mindset, skillset and toolset associated with design. It does so through guided applications to framing and solving problems in design, business and engineering. Specifically, you will learn approaches to noticing and observing, framing and reframing, imagining and designing, and experimenting and testing as well as for critique and reflection. You will also have a chance to apply those approaches in various sectors.
Good ideas alone are not the key to being a great designer or innovator. Rather, it is the strong process and communication skills that will make you stand out as a design practitioner and leader. In today’s landscape of product design and innovation, great visual communicators must know how to 1) effectively and confidently sketch by hand, 2) understand and utilize the basics of visual design, and 3) tell captivating and compelling stories. This course, offered in a project-based learning format, will give participants practice and confidence in their ability to communicate visually.
This course teaches concepts, skills and methods required to design, prototype, and fabricate physical objects. Each week relevant techniques in 2D and 3D modeling and fabrication are presented, along with basic electronics. Topics include a range of prototyping and fabrication techniques including laser-cutting, 3D modeling and 3D printing, soldering, and basic circuits.
In this one unit P/NP course, students will attend the weekly Design Field Notes speaker series, which features local design practitioners who share real-world stories about their projects, practices, and perspectives. Talks are scheduled most weeks during the semester; during any off weeks, students will engage in facilitated discussions.
In collaboration with BMW Group Technology Office USA, Designing Digital Sustainability investigates how digital products and services can positively influence consumer behavior and sustainability practices. The course builds on key insights from the summer research program on techniques and approaches that the consumer electronics industry takes toward improving user behavior in the realm of digital sustainability.
Focusing on the premium market segment and targeting next generation customers (Gen Z / Gen Alpha), students will look 10-15 years ahead to envision meaningful and engaging experiences that put sustainability at the core of users’ digital identities, behaviors, and lifestyles. Throughout this course, students will rapidly develop and refine their futuristic points of view through a series of looks-like and works-like prototypes, culminating in a clear, well thought out vision of a more sustainable future for our society.
By the end of of the course, the students will have learned:
As today’s most pressing challenges cut across disciplinary boundaries, designers need to articulate new methods for connecting conceptual knowledge with technical skills and develop new ways of integrating ideas from various perspectives and world views. Each year students in this colloquium-style course explore a topic in design. Invited lecturers present a relevant project or challenge from their professional careers at a given intersection of critical contemporary issues expressed at a particular scale of design practice. Speakers share background material or readings in advance, allowing students to arrive with thoughtful questions and discussion points. Students compose written reflections throughout and following each speaker.
This course introduces foundational design and technology frameworks and builds skill sets essential to the design of products, services, and experiences enabled by emerging technologies. It follows a human-centered design process that includes research, concept generation, and prototyping, with an emphasis on iteration and refinement. It also develops fluency across a range of core technologies, from fabrication to micro-controllers, and how to operationalize them within a design context. These activities are supported by regular practice of design critique. Students engage with a highly technical semester-long project to create a product-service system leveraging both hardware and digital technologies that addresses a well-defined need.
Studio Foundations introduces MDes students to the key concepts of design studio and the foundational principles and methods that inform the ways designers work, collaborate, and practice. Students are introduced to the culture and life of a working studio – the intellectual heart of design practice, and the place where we engage, explore, and experiment. Since design is an iterative practice, this course models the development of ideas through feedback and response, critique and refinement, dialog and distillation. The studio engages a variety of materials and media, and seeks to uncover new approaches to making through emerging technology. As representation is a foundational capacity in design, this course initiates a considered practice of presenting and communicating design ideas – to this end we address skills in visual and verbal communication, and learn ways to document projects in order to begin building a portfolio of design work.
In this course you will participate in a hands-on design studio focused on key topics of concern related to design and technology innovation. The primary goal of this course is to orient students to fabrication, building technologies, and fundamental design production skills in a studio environment. A key secondary goal is to provide students the opportunity to address a real world problem and provide an application or solution. Themes and project topics, as well as subject matter expertise, are provided by either external partners, including companies, local governmental offices, or nonprofits, or provided by faculty and related to research interests.
In this culminating course for the MDes degree, you compile a portfolio of work that has been completed during the MDes program, selecting at least four meaningful pieces that demonstrate the achievement of key learning objectives and highlight the underlying themes of your course of study. Two projects should be deeper investigations of projects done in previous classes. The third project featured should be a deep dive into the project pursued in studio. The fourth entry of the portfolio should reflect on Design@Large, an experience you have had outside of an MDes course or studio where you have furthered your design knowledge and expertise within a broader context.
This required course for the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering will include projects and case studies, many related to projects at UC Berkeley, such as those associated with the Development Impact Labs (DIL). Student teams will work with preliminary data to define the problem. They will then collect and analyze interview and survey data from potential users and begin to design a solution. Students will explore how to use novel monitoring technologies and “big data” for product improvement and evaluation. The student teams will use the case studies (with improvements based on user feedback and data analysis) to develop a plan for scaling and evaluation with a rigorous controlled trial.
An introduction to manufacturing process technologies and the ways in which dimensional requirements for manufactured objects are precisely communicated, especially through graphical means. Fundamentals of cutting, casting, molding, additive manufacturing, and joining processes are introduced. Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), tolerance analysis for fabrication, concepts of process variability, and metrology techniques are introduced and practiced. 3-D visualization skills for engineering design are developed via sketching and presentation of 3-D geometries with 2-D engineering drawings. Computer-aided design software is used. Teamwork and effective communication are emphasized through lab activities and a design project.
The world is drowning in plastic that we’ve created, most of which takes hundreds of years to decompose. It is a disaster choking our oceans, poisoning our food chains and clogging our landfills. To solve this problem, we must find ways to replace or at least reduce plastic in manufacturing, to reuse, recycle or re-purpose plastic currently in use, to rescue discarded plastic from oceans or landfills, and to dispose of plastic responsibly.
For this course, we find companies that want to achieve the same and will partner with SCET and Schoolab around this problem. Each company prepares a “deplastify challenge” based on their own business, and will be given student teams that work together to develop an entrepreneurial solution. Supported by representatives from their partner companies, students will work to understand the industry and challenge, then design prototypes and pitch their final solutions. Each student will be working with an industry partner, mostly large corporations as well as startups. Past company sponsors include Whole Foods, Faurecia Automotive, Microsoft, Allbirds, Nestle, Recology SF, Method, Bank of the West, Surfrider Foundation, Samsung and more!
We explore the fundamentals of the plastic problem and broaden the discussion on sustainability and what it takes to improve practices across industries. The course will cover ethnographic interviewing, design thinking, ideation tools, designing and prototyping products, validation with customer feedback, and business modeling. This will offer a real life experience as well as placing the student in a consulting mode, helping her to develop skills and learn how to work efficiently in a pluri disciplinary team.
The global food market is valued at $9.43 trillion and is responsible for approximately 34% of global greenhouse gas production. In addition to causing enormous greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss, the food system is inefficient, unsustainable, and inequitable. This can be observed through the vast quantities of food waste produced annually, the inequitable access to nutritious foods resulting in both widespread malnourishment and an obesity epidemic, and the increase in antibiotic resistance and new pandemics as a result of food and animal handling. Addressing these challenges requires innovation across multiple sectors and scales. However, current innovation often occurs in silos, with little multidisciplinary interaction and collaboration across stakeholders from academia, industries, and communities. For example, many alternative meat products have reported environmental benefits compared to industrially produced animal products; however, in recent years, market growth for these products has stalled despite an increasingly worsening environmental crisis. This is a clear signal from consumers that further innovation is needed to produce environmentally sustainable products that can provide better flavor and health benefits to the consumer at competitive prices.
Established and start-up food companies that are increasingly invested in developing products to meet this demand have partnered with UC Berkeley for this course. Students will work in teams with assigned companies for the duration of the semester while they seek and propose innovative solutions to combat the environmental and health challenges prevalent in our current food systems. This includes investing in plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, seafood, and other animal products, in addition to upcycling waste streams to reduce waste and create a more circular and secure food system. This class will serve as an introduction to the current sustainable food scene and innovative ideas in relation to food technology. While learning about this emerging space, student teams conduct literature and laboratory-based investigations to develop environmentally sustainable solutions to real-life challenges faced by their industry partners.
Participation in this course sets students up to take the follow-up spring course “Design of Plant-based Foods” where students will take their introductory knowledge and industry insights gained in this course and translate them to developing their own food products and developing business plans and even new companies.
Throughout the Fung Fellowship program, a diverse cohort of undergraduate students participate in a cross-disciplinary, experience-based curriculum that integrates design thinking and an immersive community experience. Fellows work in teams to develop technology solutions to address conservation and biodiversity challenges facing our plant and animal species and their ecosystems. This course provides a space for teamwork, project-based learning, and working with industry & community partners.
Recent developments in creative technologies (such as augmented/virtual reality and artificial intelligence programs) have allowed artists to experiment in their studios in novel ways. How do we tell stories, question the status quo, envision alternative futures, or push boundaries using new programs, forms, or spatial understandings? How can new mediums inform the way we understand and produce works of art? How do we critically engage, subvert, and challenge the commercial industry model of new media production?
By utilizing research and experimentation with new tools and software programs, we will consider art making in relation to other more traditional media. This is not a technology class with a dash of art on the side. In this class, developing your artistic voice will be just as important as honing your technical skills. We will have a historical approach and we will look at new media art in an ongoing dialogue with sculpture, installation, film, video, sound art, and performance art. Students will be introduced to contemporary art projects by artists working in socially engaged forms, raising awareness and creating opportunities for conversation about our political and ecological realities.
While it is not necessary to have proficiency in specific software programs before taking this course, having some familiarity with creative tools is beneficial. Merging new and traditional mediums will be encouraged. Assignments include: using artificial intelligence programs to iterate on collaborative drawings, using Adobe Illustrator and a laser cutter to design and install an art intervention, and exploring spatial immersion and critical worldbuilding using virtual reality.
Introduction to design and realization of mechatronics systems. Micro computer architectures. Basic computer IO devices. Embedded microprocessor systems and control, IO programming such as analogue to digital converters, PWM, serial and parallel outputs. Electrical components such as power supplies, operational amplifiers, transformers and filters. Shielding and grounding. Design of electric, hydraulic and pneumatic actuators. Design of sensors. Design of power transmission systems. Kinematics and dynamics of robotics devices. Basic feedback design to create robustness and performance.
This course introduces students to the control of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The course will cover modeling and dynamics of aerial vehicles, and common control strategies. Laboratory exercises allow students to apply knowledge on a real system, by programming a microcontroller to control a UAV.
This course provides hands-on and real world experience in the development of innovative and realistic customer-driven engineered products, services or systems. Design methods and tools are introduced, and the student’s design ability is developed in a capstone design project or equivalent. The course is organized around the following modules: design research, analysis & synthesis, concept generation & creativity, prototyping, communication & visualization. Students will be expected to use tools and methods of professional practice and use these tools to consider the social, economic and environmental implications of their products, services or systems. There is an emphasis on hands-on innovative thinking and professional practice. We will engage product designers from industry as speakers and coaches.
Throughout the Fung Fellowship program, a diverse cohort of undergraduate students participate in a cross-disciplinary, experience-based curriculum that integrates design thinking and an immersive community experience. Fellows work in teams to develop technology solutions to address the real-world public health challenges facing at-risk populations. This course provides a space for teamwork and project-based learning.
This course will take a solutions-oriented approach to addressing the pressing problems in current food systems. We will explore strategies used by the disciplines of agroecology, policy, law, public health, and business in working to improve food systems and apply their varied approaches to real-world case studies. Through weekly readings, discussions, and problem-solving sessions with Berkeley’s leading food systems experts, students will gain a broad understanding of food systems and the leverage points that can be targeted to improve the health of people and the planet.
Advanced study in the fields of innovation and design that will address current and emerging issues. Topics will vary with each offering and will be announced at the beginning of each term.