PJ Dick Innovation Fund Teaching Grant: Data Dump

Course 2024
Daragh Byrne, Associate Teaching Professor
three people look at printed pages on a table

Data Dump: Unmaking Intelligent Spaces
Daragh Byrne, Associate Teaching Professor, Carnegie Mellon Architecture

Beginning Fall 2024 (potential future iterations in 2025 and beyond) | 10-15 students (B.Arch, M.Arch mix), perhaps more if MSCD included

“Data Dump” is a three-year sequence of Advanced Synthesis Option (ASO) studios. Each year will use emerging frameworks in design research to unpack, examine and reinterpret the wasteful, material and resource intensive cycles of innovation found within modern technology. Within this studio, students are first asked to understand global material flows exporting harms and the consequences of those decisions on local and global contexts. Subsequently, through precedent research about urban mining to recover e-waste, we will take apart and tear down e-waste — technically, materially and conceptually — and reconfigure it to present alternatives.

2023 was a foundational year where we developed resources, including book sprints of precedents and zines articulating issues, as well as initial experiments that will enable the next two years of the studio. In 2024, we turn our attention to Waste Machines, a new pedagogical framework for working with reusing and reforming e-waste to materialize concerns around AI’s wasteful and extractive, but all too often, hidden concerns. This work intersects with the school’s commitment to pedagogy that advances discourse and training in both sustainable practices and intelligences.

Expected curricular impacts include: 1) Strengthen student understanding of, skills with, and engagement in design research (and specifically with unmaking, data-phys, graspable AI); 2) Enhance student understanding of issues at the intersection of sustainability and technology; 3) Strengthen student understanding of the seen and unseen harms of technology, and specifically AI; 4) Provide hands-on skills with the production of DIY machines for fabrication and material experimentation; and 5) Develop students’ technical skills and working knowledge of unmaking intelligent devices. 

Image Credit: “Data Dump” ASOS 2023 mid review. Credit: Daragh Byrne

About the Instructor

Associate Teaching Professor

  • Carnegie Mellon Architecture is committed to the mission-defining challenges of climate change, social justice and artificial intelligence. The PJ Dick Teaching Grants Program recognizes that the future of architecture and its related industries start with the education of the profession’s next generation of practitioners through innovative pedagogies. The teaching grants are focused on supporting changes to existing courses and development of new courses that focus on the three challenges.

  • The Faculty Grants Program will award a total of $400,000 over four years and is open to all full time faculty at the school. The 2024 proposals were evaluated by a committee comprised of school head Omar Khan; associate heads Joshua Bard, Mary-Lou Arscott and Kai Gutschow; Erica Cochran Hameen, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Theodossis Issaias, Special Faculty; Jenn Joy Wilson, Assistant Dean for Research Development and Sponsored Projects; and Aaron Martin, Associate Director, Institutional Partnerships, College of Fine Arts.

    The Faculty Grants Program, established in 2023 by PJ Dick Trumbull Lindy Group, supports faculty research and teaching innovations that address the school’s three pedagogical challenges: climate change, social justice and artificial intelligence. The proposals were assessed on their impact in furthering a faculty member’s research and teaching, their contribution to interrogating the school’s challenges, and their viability to garner further research support, make an impact on the discipline and expand the pedagogy of the school.