Art & Design Department Goes High Tech

Students use a 3-D scanner in the new Fab Lab Image by Meghan Moore
Students use the 3-D scanner in the new Fabrication Laboratory at Dugan Hall.

By David Perry

As the semester comes to a close, the Art & Design Department will further broaden its blend of art and technology as it adds a fabrication lab in Dugan Hall.

Work began during March’s spring break on renovations that will turn the space from the B-4 Duplication office in the basement of Dugan Hall into the 400-square-foot Expanded Media Fabrication Laboratory. The space will hold a 3-D printer, a 3-D scanner, a long-form laser cutter and an industrial sewing machine. The room should be ready for full-time occupancy in fall 2017.

Both graphic design and fine art students will have the chance to fabricate prototypes and handheld objects and to understand the equipment and its software.

The lab’s aim is to bridge the gap between the physical world and digital creation and serve as interdisciplinary space for design and fine art students.

“This will help elevate numerous aspects of the art department,” says Jehanne-Marie Gavarini, chair of the Art & Design Department. “We are thrilled to be able to have this space. We have been talking about developing more courses and activities with computer science.”

Gavarini says there is much excitement among faculty and students about connecting art and computer science.


Students use a computer in the Fab Lab Image by Meghan Moore
Art & Design students explore software capabilities in the new Expanded Media Fabrication Laboratory in Dugan Hall.

“This allows us to have more integration between graphic design and software programming,” she says. “Along with new faculty, this is the sort of thing that brings new energy to a department.”

The students are looking forward to using the technology, says Tim DeVoe, visiting lecturer in sculpture.

”We’ve been introducing the fabricating equipment,” says DeVoe, who has brought his personal fabricating equipment to the university for classes. “It goes right along with the stuff I have been teaching.”

No longer must visiting students wonder when they’ll have access to such now-standard equipment, says Anna Isaak-Ross, the studio manager for the Art & Design Department.

Isaak-Ross believes the lab will help shape the education of those in the animation and interactive media concentrations.

“Animation and interactive media’s future is heavily intertwined with digital technologies and hybrid platforms,” so students fluent in the new technologies will be highly prepared for the professional world, she says.

“The hands-on experience of computer-aided manufacturing will allow our students to become world-ready,” Isaak-Ross says.