This week, University of Texas Libraries and the College of Fine Arts unveiled The Foundry, a large space within the library space that UT is hoping will make some noise.
Where study stations and computers once were is now a set of five distinct areas available to all UT students to make stuff, break stuff and work with tools and materials they might not otherwise have access to depending on their areas of study. And on top of that, the Foundry also includes a new recording studio on the same floor where students can record vocals, music, podcasts or anything else. The new space is a collaboration between the college and the Fine Arts Library, one of the 10 branches of UT Libraries.
The five areas of the main part of Foundry include a fabrication studio with 3-D printers, a 2-foot by 3-foot laser cutter and lots of hand tools. (They're not worried if students make noise; in fact, it's encouraged.)
There's an integrated circuits studio capable of printing out PCB circuit boards plus a large interactive display and Roland 3-D mill machine that can work with foam, wood, wax and other materials to cut out objects in 360 degrees.
A fiber arts studio includes both new and vintage sewing and textile machines, including ones capable of working with conductive thread, as well as printers, cutters and other machines that can work with vinyl, canvas, textiles and other materials.
A post-production suite offers a set of Mac Pro computers in order to work with film, sound, design or anything else that requires lots of computing power.
And a video wall made up of nine large screens -- as well as a screen on the other side of the wall -- is set up for presentations, group projects and anything else.
Travis Willmann, communications officer for UT Libraries, Foundry shop manager Daedalus Hoffman and facilities manager Geoff Bahre, who are working along with a set of students to run the Foundry, say that this is only the first phase of the project and that the needs and work that students do at this new creators' hub will determine where it goes.
They're hoping theater students working on costumes, engineering students building circuit boards and artists will work alongside each other, developing interdisciplinary projects and getting hands-on time to learn new skills they'll be able to use after college.
Foundry is planning to offer workshops for students and currently offers online training for some pieces of equipment students must undergo before they have access to tools such as laser cutters. For other equipment in the Foundry, students need only sign up at the Fine Arts library website.