MIT 6.002x Is A Damn Big Deal. And About Electronics

From the site

“6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is an experimental on-line adaptation of
MIT’s first undergraduate analog design course: 6.002. This course will
run, free of charge, for students worldwide from March 5, 2012 through June 8,
2012.”

What did you do?!?! Is it my birthday? Christmas? What just happened?

Thats right. MIT’s biggest ever online course offering, and their first attempt at a fully online course is on learning analog electronics. Not software. Not economics. Not civil or mechanical engineering. Not some bullshit social sciences course. But real, powerful and positively useful electrical engineering.

Why Electronics?

I have some guesses. First is the obvious: OpenCourseware (their last attempt at online education) was pushed strongly towards biology, electrical and mechanical. The second is with the advent of things like codecademy, the Stanford ai course, and their own 6.00 online course doing another such course for software would be redundant. And third of the remaining options my guess is they would have optimized for a course where they had material that was easy to serve and check in a web-based environments.

The last 12 months

Its been pretty exciting! A year ago there was nothing beyond the very simple Falstad simulations, a few small communities of professional engineers, some larger communities of makers and DIY hackers, and not much else. Since then about a dozen startups have launched into the open source hardware / electronics / designer community space all very much in an effort to change the way we build real things.

And now, if that wasn’t enough, MIT has bet their prize horse in their second stab at teaching people over the interwebs on an electronics course. Amongst a plethora of wildly successful software courses. It makes me glow.

What’s next?

I can only predict more. The idea of building with atoms and electrons will continue to become a bigger and bigger part of public consciousness. Incredible new ways of doing education will continue to be created. In our lifetime today is the day the fewest of us have personalized, designed, or created something in the real world. There is so much more to come.

About Upverter

Did I mention that Upverter makes it easier to design and build real things. Tomorrow’s pocket platforms and the most revolutionary hardware yet to be conceived is being designed in Upverter right now. I challenge you to take 6.002x, learn something about electronics, and design something real in Upverter.

Design of the Week: Animatronic Cat Ears

Years online have demonstrated that contrary to what Avenue Q says, the Internet is for cats!
From their previous conquests of Hazing Cheezburgers, Ceiling Cat, and Caturday, this week has now seen cats extend their domination to the maker world.
Thanks to Abetusk for using Upverter for making such a cool project!

Quick! Make It Easier For Your Kids To Hurt Themselves

Keeping your kids safe now is only going to keep them safe for now. What happens when it comes time for real life? Do you really want to be responsible for the child who grew up in a padded room?

I didn’t think so.

I’m not here to give parenting advice – but you’re doing it wrong. Do your kids a favor; throw them something other than a pack of crayons. I’m not saying hand them a switchblade, but a circular saw couldn’t hurt. I mean at least let them explore a little…

In utmost seriousness, help them learn some skills that can be used in the real world. Because let’s face it: most artists pay their bills early, and with plenty to spare. While the world is just full of out-of-work plumbers and electricians.

The innovations moving the world forward are going to continue to come from the builders and doers, the engineers and technologists, the adults that we all know who fondly remember the time they blew up the neighbours’ tool shed as a toddler. We need a world filled with more doers, more makers, more hackers, and more builders. We need a world filled with people enabled to fix the big problems we are destined to face. We need a world with more Lego, more K’Nex, more childhood inventions, and a few less toolsheds (insert Darwin joke).

Yes.

Before I end this and go cut something big into smaler pieces. I wanted to answer the burning question you must have right now. The answer is yes. Yes you absolutely can. I don’t care if you’ve never built shit before. You can learn with your kids. You can go to a public workshop.  Hell you’re always welcome to swing by our place. Just do it – whatever it takes.

But what you absolutely cannot do is to just allow your children to adopt your fears and your limitations. Because if you’re not careful, they probably will.


About Upverter

Did I mention that Upverter makes it easier to design and build real things. Tomorrow’s pocket platforms and the most revolutionary hardware yet to be conceived is being designed in Upverter right now. Once your kids move past the tearing stuff apart, Upverter might be able to help them start putting stuff back together.

Design of the Week, February 17, 2012

Time again for a new Design of the Week, which have been somewhat less than weekly, but we’re working on that.KaiVernunft has been working on his Intelligent Moodlight for a few months. Here’s his description:
“I want a perfect moodlight for all kinds of mood (especially as SFX for role playing games). It will have SFX for several topic/moods and several independent lights to control. All of that with a simple IR remote.”

Why You Suck At Changing The World; Try Hardware

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade you’ve probably noticed that gadgets matter.

Again.

Finally.

RIM is failing [gaurdian], Apple is killing it [mashable], Square is the hottest company in SF [quora], Samsung is quietly taking over the world [cnet], and HTC is making lawyers giggle all the way to the bank [ars]. Hell, writing software for smaller, slower, drop-able, and heterogeneous hand-held devices is now an industry [tg].

But, I’ve got news for you; if someone hadn’t figured out how to build them, no one would have an iPhone, or a Droid or even a Blackberry. Fact is, no one would have a refrigerator or a toilet either if someone hadn’t figured out how to make those damn things work – but that’s a point for a different post.

As with most things there are the things the smart people do and the things the incomprehensible masses do. I break it down like this:

  • The plebs write the other million apps I will never use
  • Some smart people write software for the monster truck derby loving bird watchers
  • The smarter people write software for timelessly sharing inappropriate moments, and stalking ex-girlfriends
  • But the smartest people figure out how to build the fucking machines that run these mountains of software [woz]

I’m talkin’ about hardware. Things. Platforms for tomorrow’s software. And inventions that really change the world. Maybe it’s a traffic light that reacts to its environment, or Gate’s new toilet, or a device for connecting things to the internet. Solve a bigger problem than can fit on a touch tablet.

My point is, software did not change the world. Hardware did. And without it, your software startup is more literary adventure than problem solving. Why build more stuff that people don’t care about? Where do you rank in the 100K mobile developers world-wide? Do you seriously think you’re in the top 10? Can you win if you’re not? Still don’t think that’s why no one cares?

There are more things that still need to exist. They need to be invented to move our species forward. They are things no one has thought of yet, and they wont be built in a text file or downloaded from an app store. The people who will conceive of and invent them are visionaries. There is a reason the Homebrew Computer Club owned soldering irons. And Jobs vision was never “imagine the possibilities of putting C# in everyone’s pocket” [oreilly].

Its always been about the hardware, that’s where the real magic is, and that’s where the future still is as well. The next industrial revolution can’t be coded.

So stop being just another nobody tweaking the same bits, building the same app, and thinking a few lines of code can change the world. Elevate your skill set. Move up the food chain. Build some thing that changes the world.

Wouldn’t it be something to see something you built in pockets word-wide. To see all those plebs writing code that runs on your hardware. That’d be one hell of a high!


About Upverter

Did I mention that Upverter makes it easier to design and build real things. Tomorrow’s pocket platforms and the most revolutionary hardware yet to be conceived is being designed in Upverter right now.

Sometimes You Need a Little Alone Time

image by Sean MacEntee

Do you ever get the feeling that you are not quite ready to share your genius with the world? We do too, that is why we created private designs, that means that you can share when you want to and not when you feel that your work could take a littlepolish.
For this week only, you can sign up for, or upgrade to, the Early Adopters plan. The Early Adopters gives you a bonus two private designs and private collaboration (normally $199.00 a month), you can sign up at the suppersecret pricing page.
If you have any questions, please contact us.

Design of the Week, Jan 16, 2012