Here at Super-Releaser, our team comes from a variety of backgrounds, and and has many different skill sets as a result. Our lead scientist, Matthew Borgatti, has worked in animatronics and jewelry design, and our soft goods engineer, Kari Love, has developed spacesuits and fabricated costumes for Broadway shows. Recently, both Matthew and Kari attained positions teaching graduate-level classes at respected institutions, giving each of them the opportunity to pass down what they know to others.
As of this week, Matt has been teaching a class called “Smart Objects” at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Offered through the school’s Interaction and Design (IXD) MFA program and the Products of Design (PoD) department, it is for graduate students studying interface design, user experience, product design, and industrial design. It is a high-level course on connected devices that covers much of the conceptual ideas behind Internet of Things technology.
“Since processing power is so inexpensive to put in a device, it is one of a variety of solutions you can use as a tool for industrial design,” said Matt. “It also increases the complexity and duty of the designer.” The class will address these ideas by giving students the tools to understand the effects of connected devices on design and the user, ranging from how secure a device is to how long its usable lifespan will be.
Matt, who has a background in teaching, stated that he wants students to take away a newfound understanding of the importance of knowing every detail a project entails, from how users interact with their devices, to the technical resources and other systems. “It’s easy to forget the huge chain of dependencies in products,” he said.
The opportunity to teach was introduced through Becky Stern, another SVA professor (and well-known maker) who recommended Matt for a teaching position. Matt’s class will be taught in two seven-week sessions, the first of which started on January 9th with 19 students.
Later this month, Kari will begin teaching her class at New York University’s Tisch ITP graduate program, which focuses on the intersection of art and technology. The class, entitled “Soft Robotics and Other Engineered Softness,” is an entry-level class in soft goods engineering; however, it is not strictly bound by the definition of soft robotics. “We have a lot of things that are engineered objects that are made out of soft goods, but we don’t always look at them through the lens of soft robotics,” said Kari. The class is designed to give students insight into the current state of the field, but will also pair concepts of soft robotics with hands-on fabrication projects.
Kari, who will teach heat-sealing, silicone-casting, and other means of creating soft systems, envisions her students walking away with new strategies and resources for other projects. “When ITP students are working on problems, they are fearless and very curious,” she said, “but sometimes they need support at the foundation level.” By teaching a more interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, the class will provide this support. Kari’s prior involvement both as a Friday Guest Speaker series presenter and a participant in the ITP Camp program, as well as her experience as a soft goods engineer, made her a perfect candidate to teach such a course. The seven-week session starts on January 26th with 16 students.
Super-Releaser recognizes the huge power of institutions, which allow experts in the field to interface with students and people from other disciplines. In addition, both Matt and Kari say the schools they are teaching at are highly supportive of diversity, inclusivity, accessibility, and using those three values to shape the fields their students are involved in. As Kari herself said, “The question of ‘What does expertise look like?’ is an idea that is very in-line with Super-Releaser’s values.”
Overall, being professors will be an amazing opportunity for Matt and Kari, one that will hopefully let them pass on their vast knowledge to their students, while gaining experience for themselves. Best of luck to Kari and Matt!
If you are interested in either of the aforementioned graduate courses, information for SVA’s MFA program and NYU ITP can be found can be found on the respective websites.