February 4, 2019 Students in First-Ever Robotics Seminar Help Design Tower for Research Exhibition

Robot in Fab Lab

Our college is dedicated to the future of design. In fact, our vision of the future became a little clearer when we invested $400,000 to install a nine-axis robot in our hands-on innovation lab, better known as the Fab Lab.

Students across the college and university are working with School of Architecture assistant professor Marshall Prado in the first-ever Computational Design and Robotic Fabrication seminar.

Students with robot in fab lab

This interdisciplinary course consists of both undergraduate and graduate students from architecture, landscape architecture and engineering. Prado has designed the course to teach students skills, including how to program and control an industrial robot, develop complex material systems for lightweight structural applications and collaborate with various disciplines on designs.

Not only are these students learning valuable skills for their future careers, but Prado also is using his innovative research as a 2018-2019 Exhibit Columbus University Design Research fellow to collaborate with his students on a research-driven design/build project.

Students in the seminar are working shoulder-to-shoulder with Prado on the “Filament Tower.” The structure will consist of 27 adaptively wound, multi-nodal glass and carbon fiber components, standing higher than 30 feet tall. Composed of a lightweight carbon fiber known for its high strength-to-weight ratio and flexibility, the project explores new methods for design and fabrication. This design opens new doors to more material-efficient and sustainable construction practices for architectural design in the future.

Prado's Exhibit Columbus Rendering
Prado's Exhibit Columbus Rendering

As part of the Exhibit Columbus project, Prado and his students attended a conference in Columbus in mid-January, where they were able to see presentations of all the fellows’ approaches to fabrication and installation.

Kristia Bravo, a graduate student in the School of Architecture, explained that attending the conference was crucial to helping their team understand the site and contextualize the Filament Tower.

“We were able to see such a rich variance in design approaches from 3D-printed concrete pavilions to tensile structures,” stated Bravo. “It was also amazing to see our site for the Filament Tower, which is adjacent to the famous Eero Saarinen North Christian Church.”

The Filament Tower will be installed in downtown Columbus for three months near the church in the fall of 2019.

Prado’s research on robotic fabrication is supported by Owens Corning, Hexion, Inc., Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, ORNL Carbon Fiber Technology Facility, and Joint Institute for Advanced Materials.

Check out the highlights from Kristia Bravo’s Instagram takeover and see our robot in action on our Instagram, @utkcoad.

Learn more about Prado as a 2018-2019 Exhibit Columbus University Design Research Fellow.

Learn more about our nationally touted design/build program.