2019 Computer Science Colloquium Series

Computational Design and Fabrication for All

Leah Buechley, PhD

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Centennial Engineering Center 1041
2:00-3:00 PM


Computer Science for All (CS4All) is a new effort whose goal is to provide all K-12 students in the US with access to a CS education. Since it was announced in 2016, the initiative has gathered steam and school districts across the country are teaching their first computing classes. It is an exciting time for researchers in computer science and education; there is tremendous opportunity to shape the foundation of a new educational movement.

This talk will advocate for an approach to K-12 CS education that prioritizes young people's interests and engagement. I will argue that integrations of computing with design and hands-on making provide especially promising opportunities for deep engagement and learning in CS. I will survey relevant educational research, and present examples of how students from diverse backgrounds can create beautiful, meaningful artifacts by blending CS, design, and fabrication. I will present my own work in this area and discuss the exciting array of research opportunities presented by the intersection of CS4All with the emerging field of computational fabrication.


Leah Buechley is a designer, engineer, and educator. Her work explores integrations of computing, electronics, and design. She has done foundational work in paper and fabric-based computing. Her inventions include the LilyPad Arduino, a construction kit for sew-able electronics. She currently runs a design firm, Rural / Digital, that explores playful integrations of technology and design. Previously, she was an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded and directed the High-Low Tech group. Her research was the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and the 2017 Edith Ackerman award for Interaction Design and Children. Her work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Exploratorium, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Ars Electronica and has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Wired. Leah received a PhD in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BA in physics from Skidmore College.