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FabLab: A new space for creators

By Indira Moosai

UT’s new Fab Lab/Digital Arts Facility located in Bailey Arts Studios officially opened for class utilization on Jan. 22.

According to David Gudelunas, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, “[the Fab Lab/Digital Arts Facility] is intended as a collaborative space where students will work as multi-disciplinary teams to create new things and problem solve. The learning facilities are used primarily for certain courses and certain programs, but are open for any students who enroll in those courses, special opportunities and program events.”

The Fab Lab will be accessible for over 30 courses – majority of which consist of art classes such as ART 102 Foundations: 2-D Design and ART 305 Graphic Design I. A few non-art classes that will utilize the Fab Lab are THR 245 Technical Theatre and COM 302 Digital Media and Design for Communication.

Gudelunas said the space was created collaboratively. The general contractor on the project was Friedrich Watkins, along with Sodexo construction manager Charles Jackson, who helped coordinate construction efforts. The new lab’s administrative team included Department of Art and Design Chair Chris Valle, and numerous other members, including College of Arts and Letters Dean David Gudelunas, Provost David Stern, President Ronald L. Vaughn and architect Eric Kreher.

The demand for a maker-space is what led the university to create a large, good-quality and high-functioning laboratory. It is also designed to make the program more competitive. The lab boasts many pieces of equipment including a wood-cutter, vinyl cutters, and 3D printers as well as a metal cutter.

“One of the reasons we changed our vision and direction was that when we were meeting with prospective students coming in, they would ask us ‘Where’s your 3D printers? Where’s your laser cutters?” said Valle.

Since wood-cutting and metal-cutting machines cannot be used in the same room, there may be plans in the future to add a sculpture studio and incorporate a metal cutting machine. 

“Ultimately it’s not about what technology can do for you but what can do with technology,” said Valle. “In the medical field, they have technology now where you can actually 3D print skin. You can 3D print some organs!”

Gudelunas said that since the Fab Lab will always be monitored when open to ensure safety and maximum educational benefit, it will be generating some job opportunities for students as well as faculty.

While there are still a few touch-ups to be made and safety trainings to take place, the maker-space is currently open and functioning.

For more information, there will be an open house scheduled in the Fab Lab on March 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in which students can hear from Art and Design faculty exploring artistry and practicality of the digital tools in the Fab Lab.

Indira Moosai can be contacted at indira.moosai@theminaretonline.com

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