Computer Science for Social Good

Welcome to the computer science and social good course! The goal of this course is to use computer science tools to tackle real world projects in a productive fashion. It has been said that when you have a hammer, everything seems like a nail. This is certainly true of technology. We will explore how to identify true nails, given technological hammer.

Technological Focus|Class Structure|Class Schedule

Technological Focus

Each quarter this course is taught, we pick a particular hammer to focus on. This quarter’s hammer is 3D printing. In addition to learning about real world problems suited to this technology, you will learn about 3D printing by assembling your own printer from a kit (which you will have to purchase from us, along with other supplies), and then using it for a self defined project inspired by organizations such as the e-Nable community, which 3D prints prosthetic hands for kids.

Class Structure

‘Lectures’ will be of two types. We will discuss readings and background material in Case Study lectures (led by student discussants, or guest lecturers). We will use Practicum lectures days to work on projects in class (such as assembling your 3D printer), or practice skills (such as interviewing each other)  or report back on group projects). About half of the classes will be of each type.

Contact me at: jmankoff [at], and your classmates at make4a11 [at] Office hours will be: Mondays after class.

Grading: At the end of the quarter, you will be asked to summarize your participation in the class (lectures attended, papers read, discussions led, speaking up in class, etc). This will determine your participation grade (20%). Homeworks will make up the other 80% of the grade.

Expectations: Participation is expected, and you will get out of this course what you put into it. In addition, getting help from me and from your fellow students is encouraged, particularly when assembling your printer! Please come to office hours, post to the class mailing list, schedule joint work times, or do anything else that will help. Getting someone else to do the work for you is not encouraged, it is cheating (see the UW policy and expectations around this). Come see me if you are stuck, or unsure what help is ok. My goal is for every student in this course to succeed!

Special needs and circumstances: If you have any special needs, or a situation arises that is affecting your course work, please feel free to bring these things to my attention so that we can work together to find the best solution for you.


The course will cover a selection of the following topics, possibly in this order (everything is currently tentative).

Week 1: Course overview

Week 2: Case study & Practicum on qualitative research

Week 3: Case Study & Practicum (hopefully start of assembly)

Week 4: Practicum: Printer Assembly & Guest Lecture

Week 5: Printer Assembly & 3D Printing for Health

Week 6: Printer Operation & Case Study: Materials

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Final project presentations: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2:30-4:20 PM.

Remaining schedule

Still TBD. Topics under consideration:

  • Stakeholder-centered design and prototyping
  • Introductory material on Accessibility (Disability in the Digital Age, Ch. 5 of Horst, Heather A., and Daniel Miller, eds. Digital anthropology. A&C Black, 2013.; In My Language, Anne Bragg)
  • Humanitarian Engineering
  • Discussion of 3D printing New materials & uses
    3D printing principles & introduction
    3D printing kit assembly
    3D printing calibration and operation
    3D modeling
  • Further assignments
  • 3D printing and audio