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College of Art & Design's CxC adds equipment through Board of Regents grant

Students in the LSU College of Art & Design now have additional state-of-the-art tools to help them develop their visual communication and design skills in preparation for future career opportunities.

3D scannerArt & Design CxC Studio Graduate Assistant Matty Williams, left, and CxC Studio Media Specialist and Peer Mentor O'mar Finley demonstrate the studio’s new handheld 3D scanner to members of the local art and design community.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

Through a $70,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the college recently purchased a new, state-of-the-art three-dimensional, or 3D, scanner, a Computer Numerical Control – or CNC – milling unit and associated software for production of detailed three-dimensional models in a variety of materials.

The grant came from a collaboration between the college and LSU's Communication across the Curriculum program, or CxC. Written by Art & Design CxC Studio Coordinator Vincent Cellucci, with significant contributions from Associate Dean Tom Sofranko and Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture Director Bradley Cantrell, multiple members of the College of Art & Design's faculty and CxC upper administration.

"Since October, we've been purchasing, setting up and training faculty, staff, and students associated with the grant on the new equipment," Cellucci said. "We were able to start implementing the scanner and mill into some classes. However, we're gearing up to fully integrate the technology into the college's curricula in the fall."

Students in the college are currently learning advanced visualization techniques digitally. Since such equipment is reshaping the competitive art and design industry, Cellucci said, gaining experience in digital design fabrication will prepare students for the technology that has become an expected toolset in many fields.

"I've certainly been paying attention to how 3D scanning and digital fabrication have been innovations that continue to progress and change the professional world of art of design," he said. "I felt that Art & Design needed to acquire these resources and implement them in the curriculum."

While other labs on campus already have similar tools, Cellucci said he felt the Art & Design CxC lab needed its own equipment to provide for a continuous workflow for art and design students. He added that the college already owns fabrication items such as laser cutters and a 3D printer.

Marshall Roy, information technology analyst for the college, wrote in a recent grant report that the addition of these technologies has allowed the college to step into the 21st century, with respect to digital fabrication and three-dimensional data acquisition.

"These resources allow LSU to compete with other peer institutions to attract more designers and artists," he said. "Hands-on use of these technologies gives students the skills they will be expected to have when entering the professional workforce as designers, curators, animators and artists."

3D mill outputsThe Creaform VIUScan 3D scanner is able to capture detailed surfaces, textures and colors from almost any existing object in a 3D model. Then, using computer software, the model can be scaled down, altered, rendered and fabricated.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

During a demonstration for members of the local art and design community held on July 17, Art & Design CxC Studio Graduate Assistant Matty Williams and CxC Studio Media Specialist and Peer Mentor O'mar Finley exhibited the 3D scanner's capabilities, while Design Shop Manager Mark Shumake showcased the CNC mill's operations.

The 3D scanner, Creaform's VIUScan, is able to capture surfaces, textures and colors from almost any existing object in a 3D model on a computer. The model can then be scaled down, altered and rendered or fabricated utilizing computer software.

"The scanner allows us to achieve a watertight mesh directly from the scan with no additional post-processing," Cellucci said.

Students' completed 3D scans or original designs can then be reproduced through the new Tormach PCNC 1100 mill. The mill is able to produce physical objects with extreme accuracy using materials such as wood, Styrofoam, metals and plastics, among others.

Shumake said that, unlike a 3D printer, the mill utilizes a subtractive process, where it carves into the material to create the desired design.

"Last semester, we had a professor, Frank Melendez, who integrated the mill into one of his courses," Shumake said. "Some of his students were designing pattern projects using computer software, then bringing their files here to be milled using Styrofoam. It chips very well and gives great detail."

For class projects and research, students can use the new equipment to produce detailed output of designs, digital representations, physical models, sculptures for learning and artifacts for professional portfolios and college-wide assessment.

"I'm a landscape architecture graduate student, so being able to model plants and plant structures is a really cool feature," Williams said. "Not every leaf of a plant works best, but the scanner can pick up some types really well. Just to have access to something like that where I can model it and then diagram it adds a new option to what I can do."

Area art and design specialists who attended the demonstration offered their advice to students looking to utilize the new equipment as technology expands into the art and design fields.

3D mill outputsDesign Shop Manager Mark Shumake shows examples of models that the college’s new CNC mill can create, using a subtractive process on materials such as wood, Styrofoam, metals and plastics.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

"One of my big objectives for a long time has been to integrate the technology into what I do as an artist," said Brad Bourgoyne, a digital artist and instructor with Bourgoyne Enterprises. "Growing up, I wasn't exposed to very much technology as an artist, except for Photoshop. To me, the biggest thing that students need to do is not just get exposed to the high-end stuff, but also figure out how they can integrate it into their own personal production. Having access to it through the university is a huge asset."

Sam Claitor, production coordinator for Gentle Giant Studios' Baton Rouge office, said that his company uses a similar 3D scanner to replicate props for feature films, and that experience using such technology is a plus for those looking to enter the design side of the film production industry.

"Something that a company like Gentle Giant would look for in a portfolio would be good data collection," he said. "This is really promising to me because you don't normally see someone coming out of school and being familiar with scanning techniques."

Cellucci said that while the equipment is beneficial to all areas of the College of Art & Design, it also allows for increased interdisciplinary efforts between the college and other academic units at LSU.

"We already collaborate with many other academic units on campus and are open to doing more," he said. "This new equipment will allow us to do just that."

One such example of interdisciplinary collaboration is a recent trip to Belize that Cellucci took with Doris Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Studies Heather McKillop and graduate students in the Department of Geography & Anthropology, where the 3D scanner was utilized in the field.

"We were out there in the bush, scanning items," he said. "That way, the students could recreate the scanned artifacts when we got back to campus for further research."

CxC Associate Director Rebecca Burdette said that the new equipment will have benefits for students both while at the university, as well as for their future endeavors.

"The goal of CxC is to promote and improve communication skills in higher education," she said. "What this new equipment does is that it allows students access to useful tools to help them better communicate their ideas through visual representations. In the College of Art & Design, visual communication is especially vital. Therefore, these new pieces of equipment are sound investments."

3D mill outputsThe college also offers laser cutters and a 3D printer, which can create detailed copies of items for use in modeling on student or faculty projects.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

About the Art & Design CxC Studio

Students in the College of Art & Design can utilize the Art & Design CxC Studio, located in Room 104-A of the Design Building. One of five communication studios on campus, this resource provides tutoring on communication assignments – specifically writing and presentations, as well as having digital media equipment available for checkout and resources for portfolio development, such as a digital documentation studio. For more information, including a list of services offered by the studio, contact Cellucci at 225-578-1197, email vcellu1@lsu.edu or visit http://lsu.edu/cxc/coad.

About LSU Communication across the Curriculum

As the first program of its kind in the nation, Communication across the Curriculum works with LSU faculty to train, guide and recognize students who demonstrate exceptional communication skills. Launched in 2004, CxC is focused on enhancing learning experiences for students and improving their written, spoken, visual presentation and technological communication skills within the disciplines. Rooted in the proven pedagogy of Writing across the Curriculum programs, CxC extends that model to address spoken, visual and technological communication to increase the marketability of student graduates in the professional workforce. CxC offers faculty development workshops and curricula design resources to faculty who incorporate communication-intensive components to their courses; operates communication studios that support students working on communication-based projects; and honors students who excel in communication via the LSU Distinguished Communicator certification program.

To learn more about Communication across the Curriculum, including information on the CxC labs at LSU, call 225-578-7795, email cxc@lsu.edu or visit http://www.lsu.edu/cxc.