Research Tech

Kathy Guo


Project Overview

During my time as the Research Technician at dfab, I wanted to learn how to sustain a practice in fabrication, whether it is for a small one time piece or for a large batch commission. As an aspiring public sculptor or interactive exhibit builder, I felt it was important for me to gain experience in contracted work with not only the necessary building skills but also in the smaller details such as sending invoices and mock-ups to the client. Additionally, I hoped to leave a resource for future dfabbers to use, so I made a set of laser cut samples, as well as learn programming to improve the efficiency of dFab.


Project Evolution/ Process / Challenges

As soon as my position started, I was lucky enough to have a few people reach out to me for work. Among them was the request to redesign and fabricate display stands and a crate for the Unravel the Code class. I conducted a series of tests to find the most optimal width and length for the snap connection on the displays. The challenge was in the pressure of such a large scale production. Everything had to work perfectly before I proceeded to cut 50 sheets of plywood. 

While the commissions were an extremely valuable experience for me, I still wanted to fulfill my initial goal of learning more fabrication techniques, give back to the dfab community, and make work for myself. I found this to be especially challenging as my time in the studio was cut short by the COVID-19 virus and I could not continue some of the projects I planned for. Instead, I used the time at home to learn Grasshopper, programming in Python, and make a card reader sign-in sheet. 


The impact of the Digital Fabrication studios and the community at MICA


Initially, I dreamed of becoming an expert in every aspect of the process and machinery in dfab but I quickly realized this was unrealistic. However, I continued to learn more than I could have imagined by being surrounded by my hardworking and creative peers. I am energized by their creative processes and approaches to problem-solving that is unique to the dfab lab at MICA!


The takeaways

Being a Research Tech felt like winning the lottery in many ways. I loved every bit of learning, troubleshooting, making mistakes, and the freedom to explore whatever I wanted while being surrounded by an amazing community. I now know a lot more about directing my own path as a maker after undergrad, and I continue to look for ways to be involved with making in education.