The Design and Optimization of a Lighted Kinetic Art Surface Display; An ANT Analysis of Open-Source Development

Renkert, Philip, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn
Garner, Gavin

The technical project is a kinetic art display that users can program to obtain a physical representation of a surface or image. The design consists of a grid of transparent rods with colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs) attached at one end to illuminate the rod. A servo motor coupled to each rod assembly, or voxel, facilitates linear motion. Interesting surfaces or images are displayed by coordinating the colors and positions of the voxels. The design is optimized to reduce cost, complexity, and manufacturing time. The design intends to demonstrate the creative potential of mechatronics, to inspire viewers to learn the fundamentals of mechanical engineering and mechatronics, and to apply that knowledge to their own projects. It shows that STEM education need not be confined to classrooms, as open, project-based learning allows great engineers to develop concurrently with great products.

The STS research paper explores Open Source Development (OSD). OSD is a new model of technological development that emerged with the invention of the internet and has grown to power much of today’s modern technology. Despite its rising popularity and economic significance, the sociotechnical mechanisms of OSD are not well understood. This analysis employs Actor Network Theory to examine the network surrounding Arduino, a popular microcontroller board and canonical example of Open Source Hardware. In addressing how heterogeneous actors contribute to the success of open-source projects, this paper traces key events in Arduino’s development back to the responsible actants and interactions between actants. The attributes and motivations of each actant are then analyzed to understand how a network of diverse actants led to the success of the Arduino project. These findings provide to the field of Science, Technology, and Society a high-level sociotechnical model of networks surrounding successful Open Source Hardware projects.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Actor-Network Theory, Open Source Development

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Gavin Garner
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Megan Mazzatenta, Jack Purcell, Philip Renkert

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