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Why the Journey Matters More Than the Goal


As part of the Master of Applied Cybernetics at the 3ai institute, we have a course in Building Cyber-Physical Systems. The course runs for the full year of the program and aims to ensure that graduates receive a grounding in the systems that they are learning about. If you will excuse the bad pun, this course aims to put the ‘physical’ into a masters on cyber-physical systems (CPS).

Why are we going on a Build Journey?

What sets the 3ai institute apart from other academic institutions is that it seeks to create graduates who can not only leverage the technology to create things but can also reflect critically on the work they are undertaking and the skills they are learning. This blog is part of the requirements of the build course, a documentary record of our learning journey and a way for us to demonstrate the skills we have learnt through the year.

What is a Build Journey?

The course aims to teach us about the key building blocks of CPS systems, including Programming, Circuits, Data, Sensors amongst other sills. These will be fundamental to the new branch of Engineering (NBE) that is the goal of the 3ai institute. We will demonstrate our learning of these skills through:

  • Skills work in the studio and beyond

  • Individual Maker Project

  • Group CPS project: I am part of the critical infrastructure team

As part of these projects we will also be learning skills that will assist us as practitioners. The ones that I will concentrating on are:

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Machine Learning

  • Neural Networks

  • Big data sets (and their challenges)

  • CAD Modelling

How will it be structured?

The bog will contain a series of posts that will cover:

  • Detailed reflections on the skill areas we are covering, starting with our immersion in programming and python

  • A catalogue of some of the pieces we will be creating as part of the course. These will be curated to include a mix of successes, noble failures (and what they taught us) and oddities that highlight the requirement for a NBE.

Who I am in relation to Build?

We all bring our past to these endeavours and I am no different. My professional background is in technology, while my academic background is in anthropology and law.

On the technology skills I have experience in IT Architecture, Programming (though in the distant past), systems thinking and analysis, and professional skills in public speaking, project management, leading teams, financial modelling and cost-benefit analysis, amongst many others that are too long to mention and more that I have no doubt forgotten.

What I do not have any experience in, and very little interest in, is the physical skills required in the course. I do not possess, nor have I demonstrated any aptitude for, skills such as sewing, welding, soldering, drilling, electronics or any other activity that is not typing into a computer. Nor am I a creative type, with a corresponding lack of skills in drawing, sketching, painting, design or others that I now wish I had. Memories of failing both technical studies and art at school and a lifetime eschewing activities in either area are enough to demonstrate that these areas of build are slightly terrifying. Hopefully my group for the CPS project will need a coder or speaker.

When are the Key Milestones?

As with all journey's this blog will be updated regularly once we have covered major skill areas. Important dates to note are:

  • 31st March - Design Brief due for our Maker project

  • 8th June Demo day for our Maker project

  • 17th November: Demo Day for SMARC

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