Tinkering School

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Welcome to Reverse Engineering

Reverse (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation. It often involves disassembling something...and analyzing its components and workings in detail... without using or simply duplicating (without understanding) the original...

The purpose is to deduce design decisions from end products with little or no additional knowledge about the procedures involved in the original production.


Giada passes safety training on the chop saw.

Most of the time, we learn from teachers, coaches, instructors. A person tells us how to do something and we do it. In Reverse Engineering, we practice autodidacticism--literally, self teaching.

We begin with careful examination of the artifact in question. We break complex structures down to their component parts. We speculate as to the order of operations, and the designers intent. The act of "copying" in artifact involves tremendous leaps of imagination.

Milan gets creative with drill practice.

In this class, we will become better autodidacts and problem-solvers. We will achieve this through three feats of reverse engineering. First we will reverse engineer a static object (i.e., no moving parts). 

Then we will reverse engineer a simple machine with moving parts.

Finally, we will reverse engineer a machine with moving parts and a power source. 

The journey begins with small, humble steps. The first target of our reverse engineering is simple desk built of 2x4 and plywood.

Sharing thoughts on how our stools were made.

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