Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Mark D. Gross

Second Advisor

Michael Eisenberg

Third Advisor

Sherry Hsi

Fourth Advisor

Leah Buechley

Fifth Advisor

Laura Devendorf


Paper Mechatronics is a new design medium that integrates traditional papercrafting with mechanical, electrical, and computational components. This multidisciplinary medium adds layers to the creative possibilities of traditional papercrafting. This dissertation presents computational design tools and techniques that I designed and developed to enable novices to build their own Paper Mechatronics. I begin with an overview to describe Paper Mechatronics as a new medium for learning by making. Then I illustrate the design considerations and development of tools and associated prototyping techniques to support novice designers. Finally, I report on Paper Mechatronics workshops as user studies, where I assess the tools and techniques and discuss findings and lessons learned from working with a group of children, educators, and fellow researchers.

These investigations show that Paper Mechatronics can be a compelling means for exploratory construction that promotes powerful ideas. Consciously designed tools and techniques can lower the entry bar for novice designers to actively explore their ideas through design and engineering. This work establishes a foundation for Paper Mechatronics as a medium to enable creative learning and open a further discourse on developing tools and techniques to widen access to exploratory construction, thus promoting creativity.