What’s an Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform based on flexible, easy to use hardware and software. It is intended for tinkerers and hobbyists that are interested in creating interactive objects or environments. The project was founded in 2003, in Ivrea, Italy, to provide students and professionals with an accessible and low-cost device that can interact with its environment using sensors and actuators. For such a simple device, its design potential and uses are limitless. At Unleash Space, we offer multiple workshops to students and staff who would like to learn how to use this technology.

The Create and Maker Space was crowded today as keen learners queued up to take their first steps into the world of electronic technology: the Arduino. Boards of green with blinking lights were neatly laid out on the workbench. To a newcomer, I can understand that the components on the board appear like hieroglyphics from the future. Fortunately, one of the student Creative Technologists working in the Create and Maker Space, Dweep Kapadia, translated this technology to us.

The first hour comprised of basic explanations of how the Arduino functions alongside Dweep’s humorous quips. Dweep made a fantastic analogy that both microcomputer and sensor technology work together to mimic human capabilities with the goal of outperforming them. He explained that sensors can take in information, just like our vision and our hearing do. The microcomputer can process that information and decide what to do with it – which sounds similar to what our brains can do! Dweep elaborates that it is this type of synergy that allows for such great versatility of the Arduino.

In the second hour, we were given the opportunity to actualise what we had learned about the Arduino and put our ideas forth on the board. I personally found this recreational part of the workshop to be the most fun. There was a period of quiet and focus, but it was quickly followed with buzzes, whirrs and flashes of the Arduino boards coming to life – not to mention the smiles of the students who created them. Looking around, I could see that the workshop attracted people from many different places. Here are some statements that a few attendees made:

“I found it really fun, it was a good environment to be able to figure out what you wanted to do with the Arduino. I think that if you were completely new to Arduino, then I believe that this workshop would be excellent. I also want to add that this even though it is super helpful for beginners, people with intermediate skill can enjoy this too.” – An ex-technician taking a Bachelor’s Degree in Property.

“My goal was to get in touch with an Arduino, and the workshop gave me the opportunity to do it. The tutorial was very easy to follow along; I love the casual atmosphere and the pace and receiving help whenever I needed.” – Jens Brinkmann, also known as the “PhD guy”.

“It’s cool to learn about things outside of my skill set, because coming from my Business background I would not have otherwise been exposed to what the future might unfold. It’s good to know that there is a space to ideate and innovate in a controlled environment.” – Jared Goffe, CEO of Unleash Space.

Thank you to the Creative Technologist team for providing this delightful opportunity to us! For those that are interested in exploring the Arduino with Unleash Space, you can find the next workshop here!