Research Tech

Kathy Guo


Project Overview

My work as an artist is centered around exploring human relationships, togetherness, and community through various interactive sculpted structures. During my time as the Research Technician at dFab, I focused on expanding my knowledge of fabricating so I could be more independent in building my work. As an aspiring public sculptor or interactive exhibit builder, I also hoped to gain experience in dealing with contracted work, such as sending invoices and mock-ups to the client. Before I left, I wanted to leave a resource for future dfabbers to use, so I made a set of laser cut samples, as well as learn to  program a sign in system that would improve the efficiency of dFab.


Project Evolution/ Process / Challenges

While planning for new projects, I decided to take on commissions as my main focus. 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, and program in Python to create a card reader that signed students in on a Google 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.