ASSETT Incubator Incubator Award proposal- AAH Department

Project Overview (250)


The Department of Art & Art History (AAH) seeks funding to help expand its digital fabrication resources to support increasing student interest in using these innovative methodologies. Our current digital fabrication tools are not meeting the curricular demands of the department, lag behind many colleges in the region with smaller programs, and will prevent Departmental growth in key areas of student enrollment and retention. Digital fabrication tools have played a crucial role in students’ work – promoting creativity and innovation in a variety of projects previously unachievable. 

Art & Art History’s digital fabrication resources presently consist of a CNC router, a laser cutter, two 3D printers, and a vinyl cutter. However, the student demand and interest in the use of these tools has steadily and dramatically increased. Our modest Fab Lab, housed in the wood shop, is used by students from foundations, sculpture, ceramics, painting and drawing, printmaking, photography, digital art, video, and even CMCI and CINE students  – all working on a wide variety of coursework.

These technologies, employed by artists, designers, engineers, and architects alike, expand our ability to produce forms previously unimaginable. Offering courses that aim to provide students with new ways to envision and make art in a variety of media using technologies that reduce technical and conceptual barriers to traditional handmade practices is our mission. By incorporating 3-D scanning and ceramic printing technologies, and laser cutting and software tools, students will reinvent how and what they can make, and who it could serve.


 Project Purpose (125)

Students are eager for hands-on experience using digital fabrication methodology within arts practices at CU Boulder. These technologies are quickly becoming the dominant methods by which professional artists design and produce their work. Our students require classes that can bridge traditional methods of making with these new fabrication technologies. We plan to integrate how both approaches speak to each other by having students make forms that they can scan and print, manipulate and reprint, allowing for a reciprocal dialogue to form between age-old and emerging production techniques. In absence of any digital ceramic fabrication tools, for instance, we cannot offer this expanded curriculum. This award could help establish courses such as Out of Hand: Ceramic Digital Fabrication, as one of many possibilities we envision.

Stakeholders + Needs (125)


The primary stakeholders in this project are our undergraduate & graduate students,who are clamoring for this experience, but this also includes faculty and staff looking to create new coursework and curriculum that can implement digital fabrication processes. Many faculty use these technologies in their own practices, yet can’t employ it for their student projects given the scant resources available to them.

The AAH department faculty and staff strongly believe in meeting this growing demand, and are committed to matching as much funding as possible provided by this ASSETT Award. 

Intended Impact (100)


These labs will bring undergraduates and graduate students at all levels

into dialogue. Our learning outcomes aim to introduce and

develop a conceptual and technical understanding of digital media and making;

provide “hands-on” experience with digital tools and techniques to an expanded

constituency; allow us to work with a variety of digital and sensory inputs and

their physical outputs, while focusing on the specific possibilities with

printed ceramic, and vinyl materials.  We will provide real-world applied design

experiences for our students, and opportunities for collaboration,

experimentation, and group learning, and expand their capacity to work

with more communities after graduation.


Team Description/Gaps (75)


PI: Graham Oddie, Chair of AAH Dept. 

Co-PIs: Evan Blackstock, AAH staff support for the Metal Shop and Digital Fabrication Tools

Anna Tsouhlarakis, Assistant Professor, Foundations Director

Kim Dickey, Professor, Associate Chair, Ceramics

Jeanne Quinn, Professor, Ceramics Area

Richard Saxton, Associate Professor, Sculpture and Post-Studio Practice


These methods and technologies will be introduced in our students’ Foundations courses and then be developed in area specific courses from Ceramics to Painting, Printmaking and Sculpture, among others.


Intended Scale (100)


This will impact a dozen courses (150 – 200 undergraduates) in our department, beginning with seven additional sections of Foundations, where we have increased enrollment numbers, and in Ceramics where classes routinely have long waiting lists, and allow us to offer a popular Digital Fab Sculpture course.  


This proposal presents an opportunity to forge greater connections across campus – to bring engineers, architects and designers working in allied fields of research from the College of Engineering, through The Idea Forge; in the Atlas Institute, with the Unstable Lab; and ENVD design labs, and pave the way for joint initiatives in the future.


Funding Request + Intended Use of Funds (125)


(1) Epilog Fusion PRO 48 CO2 120W Laser cutter $49,124

(1) PC Dell Laptop $1,176

(1)  PC ASUS Desktop Computer & Monitor $2,000

(2) Mac Desktops for Lab Mac Studio M1 Max display $6,796

(4) Prusa i3MK3S 3D printers $4,800

(1) POP 2 3D scanner $699

(4) 30 x 72” Sturdy Work Tables $2,800

(8) Used computer desks (CU distribution) $800 

(10) Used computer chairs (CU Distribution) $150

(1) Lutum 5 XL Ceramic Printer with pugmill adapter $11,739 

(1) 3D PotterBot 10 PRO Ceramic Printer $6,950

(1) Cyclonic mobile dust collector for Ceramic Fab Lab $1,799

(20) Metashape 2 year licenses $2,360

Total Cost $91,193

AAH Department Funding -$30,000

Request from ASSETT $61,193


Anticipated Long-term Needs (100)


Our Department has identified two spaces where these Fab Labs would  be located and are engaging in a space study to determine the infrastructure needs to support this equipment. Following this assessment there may be costs associated with upgrading the HVAC or electrical demands in these two spaces. We are excited that these additional tools can be integrated into existing spaces and give students access as early as next Fall 2023, within the Visual Arts Complex. A Teaching Professor in Foundations, with expertise in digital fabrication, will be joining our faculty in Fall 2023 to offer additional technical support.