A redesign project is planned for the Digital Fabrication Lab, and the NDSU Libraries hope generous support from alumni and friends will help make it happen.
The lab, located in the Main Library, is an accessible and inclusive workspace that provides tools, training, and support to design and produce prototypes and projects for personal, academic and professional use.
Adam Elznic, NDSU Libraries emerging technologies services coordinator, said, “The lab is a space where students can try new ideas, develop skills and meet other people who are interested in experimenting with new technology. We are a diverse group of people who bring different perspectives, experiences and skills to one shared space."
In spring 2021, a group of NDSU interior design students who are now seniors – Carolyn Hoffmann, Hannah Schumacher, Jesse Price, Kendra Borgen and Parker Johnson – created a proposal to redesign the Digital Fabrication Lab as a class project with Susan Ray-Degges, professor and interior design program coordinator. One of the highlights of their proposal is the collaboration suite, which will adjoin the current lab space and feature individual workstations, flexible seating and a SMART board for students to practice presentations and collaborate on projects and assignments.
"This redesign will change how some students might study and use their resources on campus for a better education," Hoffmann said.
The Libraries provided NDSU's first 3D printing service in 2014, which has been transformed into the Digital Fabrication Lab. Elznic and student technicians provide hands-on support to students working in the lab.
"The Digital Fabrication Lab is an important part of campus and allows students to showcase their creativity,” said Schumacher. “It also allows students to make friends and collaborate on different projects. We are fortunate enough to have access to these unique machines and learn a new skill set."
The interior design students said the experience gave them a unique real-world opportunity to make an effective change and expand their education.
"It is important for students to participate in co-op experiences such as the redesign of the Digital Fabrication Lab as it involves the students into the campus they attend, and allows them to be creative, gain relationships, and gain experiences," Borgen said.
"It is great to gain real-life experiences with design opportunities before graduation because it allows us to speak with professionals, work as a team and create a space that can be used by our peers,” Price said.
Ray-Degges said, "Collaborating with the library has been key for student success. Throughout my time at NDSU, the library has played a pivotal role impacting positive student learning. Without the resources made so readily available for our students, they would not have the necessary materials to complete programming and other necessary activities that are critical to successful learning outcomes. These combined experiences with the library have resulted in positive interactions with our program and our students."
The Digital Fabrication Lab has received various grants that have been crucial to its development. Most recently, a group of NDSU faculty and Libraries staff received a North Dakota EPSCoR State Office STEM grant to acquire two portable 3D laser scanners that are available for checkout to all faculty, staff, and students. During the next year, Elznic and his staff plan to offer new software training, CAD classes and design workshops that will help further students’ understanding of digital fabrication and emerging technologies.
The NDSU Libraries ask for support on NDSU Giving Day 2021 to help fund the project.