April 16, 2015 Students, Staff Attend Annual Design Robotics Summit

Students and staff of the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design learned about advancements in the design robotics field via the Design Robotics Summit held at Virginia Tech’s new Design Robotics Studio. They will apply their knowledge to the machinery and robotics recently acquired for the new University of Tennessee Fabrication Lab.

The summit included more than 60 students, faculty, and staff from colleges and universities across the country, as well as industry members from Autodesk and The Living. The workshop’s results will be presented at the May 16-19 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City through the Center for Design Research’s exhibition entitled “Material Transformations.”

This immersive experience provided participants the technical skills needed to begin to engage emerging design robotics initiatives at the participating universities.  Digital fabrication coordinators from the University of Tennessee (Matt Culver and Craig Gilliam), University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech had the opportunity to work together on the development of workflows related to student access to robotic fabrication equipment. The University of Tennessee brought their own machines — enabling the cross-pollination of knowledge that will facilitate the rapid adoption of the technologies at each respective school.

“A goal of the Center for Design Research is to expand collaborative research projects within and beyond the boundaries of the university. This summit is a first step to jointly explore the evolving sphere of architecture and design education in the context of digital design and fabrication, and provide a working forum of interaction between the academy and profession,“ said Robert Dunay, director of the Center for Design Research.

Design robotics emerged in architecture, art, and design as a mode of inquiry focused on the investigation and understanding of digital fabrication and robotic technologies. The field is evolving, offering opportunities to develop and deploy of advanced processes, systems, and solutions for both pedagogy and practice while providing a platform for collaborative research, development, and exploration.

Digital fabrication is becoming an emerging and important part of the curriculum of the University of Tennessee. The Fab Lab opened its doors in August 2014, and since acquired more than $600,000 in new equipment, including computer-aided design and manufacturing machinery such as computer numerically controlled mills, laser cutters, 3D printers, and robotics.


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