Idea League course

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The summer school is organized as an intensive two weeks combination of lectures, team work and a project based performance assessment. Due to the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the summer school was organized fully online.

The lectures are divided in 4 thematic blocks to cover core aspects of computational design for AM, involving an overview of design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) possibilities, multi-material fabrication, generative design, and metamaterials design. The blocks include a combination of prerecorded sessions with lectures from the organizers, invited lectures from researchers and experts in the field of AM. The central element of the summer school is a design challenge introduced at the opening of the summer school, i.e., a project, that participants will address as a part of their practical work. In both 2020 and 2021, the design challenge involved redesign of preselected parts and components of a bicycle for AM.

To facilitate off-line learning processes, the summer school relies heavily on the flipped classroom concept which is implemented for the prerecorded sessions and guided studio times for each of four thematic blocks. The concept proved beneficial to discuss the content of lectures in the context of the design challenge task. Since the summer school requires application of several computational tools, such as Autodesk Fusion 360 cloud-based 3D modeling software tool, and GRASSHOPPER visual algorithm and modeling environment for NURBS, guided studio times are also used for live tutorials, as well as explanations of programming scripts and solutions that were pre-prepared by the organizers to be used by the students during the summer school.

Involvement and active participation of students

To address the design challenge, 7 slots totaling 14 hours are allocated for the team work activity. Discussions with students revealed that the teamwork activity was also performed outside of the allocated time slots, especially for teams with members distributed worldwide in different time-zones.

Apart from the design challenge culminating on the closing day with final presentations of the designs produced by each team, the students are also asked to introduce themselves individually in a virtual poster session using a 30 seconds long pre-recorded video. Furthermore, to present their early ideas on how to tackle the design challenge, each team is asked to deliver a presentation in the creativity session that is organized early in the first week of the summers school.

The summer school also involves a number of small 30 minutes break-out room sessions as a replacement for a real-life coffee break and is a kind of an “ice-breaker” to make the students more relaxed when interacting with the course instructors. The breakout sessions also serve as an opportunity for students to share their intermediate outcomes with the course instructors.


The summer school relies on MS Teams as the main communication environment and the course content management system. The student teams are assigned to their virtual team rooms that can be visited by course instructors at any time during the summer school to initiate live discussions. During the summer school it was recognized that individual teams organized themselves further in individual sub-teams with their own dedicated communication channels to facilitate the work. The other means of communication include chat over MS Teams, and direct emails to course instructors.

Ways that students receive support and feedback.

The students receive direct support and live feedback from the instructors during teamwork and break-out sessions, as well as guided studio times. At every stage of the summer school at least two course instructors are available to support teams’ work. Furthermore, the feedback of the design expert is crucial to discuss specific design challenge related questions, and is provided usually 2-3 times per each team throughout the summer school.


The assessment is performed by all six course instructors using 0-5 grading marks to evaluate the work of each team for quality of their presentation, innovativeness of the idea, printability and technical feasibility of the proposed solution, aesthetics and ergonomics (if applicable), and effectiveness of the implemented/foreseen design process.

How remote teaching has been changed since the pandemic and our thoughts for after

Due to the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the summer school was only organized in an online mode. Thus, the current plan envisages a condensed one week version of the summer school with lessons in presence to take place in 2023.

The summer school with lessons in presence is planned for 2023, and will adopt most of the features of the online version, but with a direct in-person interaction with students. The flipped classroom teaching concept is equality beneficial for in-person teaching to facilitate off-line learning processes especially if the summer school is condensed to one week while retaining the most of its original two week content. The invited lectures will remain in an online mode to facilitate a carbon neutral educational process as much as possible, and to enable the summer school operating within its budgetary limitations, while securing a high number of researchers and experts in the field of AM to participate in the summer school. What will be introduced in 2023 is the social part of the summer school, as well as the practical part of realizing the designs using an actual 3D printing machine. So far, both elements were virtually inexistent and their addition to the summer school will contribute greatly to the teaching process.

For the 2022, instead of organizing a summer school it is planned to take a break and organize a one day workshop that will involve participation of the summer school alumni. The workshop will serve to discuss how the summer school impacted their studies and professional careers, discuss improvements of the course content and how to plan the summer school in 2023.



What discussion points are you particularly interested in when exchanging with other lecturers?

We would like to discuss challenges of organizing a summer school with physical presence before and during the pandemic (if any), as well as discussing various other managerial aspects of organizing a summer school in Switzerland. Of course, we would be more than happy to share our experiences and findings stemming from the Computational Design for Additive Manufacturing summer school organization.

Course Description

Summer School on Computational Design for Additive Manufacturing
The summer school is jointly organised under the IDEA League by researchers from TU Delft, Politecnico di Milano, ETH Zurich and Pennsylvania State University.
Explain the fundamentals and challenges associated with AM technologies. Explain the fundamentals of computational design for additive manufacturing supporting methods. Apply the digital workflow (scanning-computational design-digital fabrication) for customized product design. Apply state-of-the-art computational design tools and methods to design for AM. Identify appropriate and innovative application scenarios for AM.
Master and PhD Students
Summer School
30 - 45
Project based course
Teaching Power:
6 lecturers plus additional invited speakers
Project based