Proposal ID 2015-029
Submitted January 15, 2015
Owner baratta
Department Architecture and Urban Planning, College of
Category Machinery & Research
Funding Status Fully Funded
Metric Score 4.24


  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Mark Baratta
  • Computing Director
  • 543-4872
  • 355726
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Rachel Ward
  • Assistant Dean, Budget & Planning
  • 616-2440
  • 355726
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • John Schaufelberger
  • Dean
  • 616-2442
  • 355726



MACHINERY AND RESEARCH. Design and fabrication are at the core of what students do in the College of Built Environments. In recent years, digital design and fabrication have become ubiquitous in the professions for which CBE students are preparing themselves. Thus, it is critical that we provide the College's roughly 750 students with opportunities to gain facility with these new tools and processes. The CBE Fabrication Lab has a long tradition of providing these opportunities, helping students develop skills to create models, buildings, and award-winning furniture. We seek to augment our current digital and conventional tools with a robot arm and associated software, to give students an opportunity to learn how to design for manufacturability using tools and processes that are used in industry.

Category Justification

The proposed robot arm would become part of CBE's existing fabrication facility, augmenting a substantial infrastructure of digital and conventional tools for design and making. Students would use the robot arm to assemble objects, components of which they had created using other tools in the fabrication lab, as well as to analyze objects brought into the facility. Through this work, they would develop a better sense of the process of design for manufacturing, making them more competitive in the world outside academia.


The digital-design-and-fabrication culture at University of Washington has grown dramatically, particularly since 2008 when the College of Built Environments committed to developing a substantial, coordinated digital-design-and-fabrication infrastructure. Today this includes a digital hub associated with our conventional fabrication labs with a dozen new computers loaded with a substantial collection of appropriate, industry-standard programs, as well as machine tools including a large CNC-router, small CNC-mill, CNC-plasma cutter, CNC-fabric cutter, three medium-format laser cutters, two 3D printers, a number of 3D digitizing tools and a variety of smaller, sophisticated tools. We have developed a full regular curriculum around digital-design-and-fabrication activities as well as a parallel certificate program within the Professional and Extension School. The College of Engineering and School of Art have also developed digital manufacturing capabilities, and new maker spaces have been proposed or have already been built. The College of Built Environments has led the way in seeking to coordinate efforts across units, hosting the CAD/CAM/CAFÉ, a weekly event to which all interested parties are invited, and providing access to digital design tools and downstream, digitally-enabled machine tools to a wide variety of users within the CBE and across the campus.

We would like to continue to innovate by introducing robotics to our maturing, campus-wide digital-fabrication culture. We propose the purchase of a medium-scale, six-axis robotic arm, a substantial tool with all of the features of a larger industrial unit. This purchase will provide students with enhanced capabilities to better prepare them for leveraging the use of advanced technologies in the workplace, and will provide opportunities for faculty research that match or exceed those at peer institutions. We have a well-established digital-design-and-fabrication infrastructure in place. We have outstanding faculty and students, and we have become a center of expertise in these areas in the Pacific Northwest. We believe the purchase of a robotic arm and associated software will bring substantial benefits to the student experience at UW.

Benefits to Students and the University

A medium-scale, six-axis robotic arm will provide students with the hands-on experience they'll need to effectively incorporate advanced fabrication and manufacturing technologies in their work as they move into the professions for which they're preparing themselves. The College of Built Environments is already a center of expertise in the leveraging of advanced technologies in the design and construction disciplines in our region - the reputation of the UW and experience of our students will only be enhanced by the addition of this equipment and associated software.


Common Metrics:

1. Student Access

a. How many students will utilize this technology? All of the roughly 750 students in the College of Built Environments - plus any UW student who has been trained by CBE Fabrication Lab personnel - are eligible to use the equipment after appropriate training.

b. How will students hear about, and locate, this technology? Through CBE student orientations, announcements in CBE studio classes, college web site, presentations, emails to students, word-of-mouth. Non-CBE students find out about the technology via announcements in their studio classes (e.g. Art), labs (e.g. Engineering), and by participation in CBE's CAD/CAM/CAFE, a weekly open forum for people involved in digital fabrication across campus.

2. Departmental Support and Responsibility

a. Will the project have necessary access to UW or departmental infrastructure (including security, maintenance, power, water, sewer, Internet/WiFi, insurance, or other needs for full operation)? Yes. The equipment will be housed in Gould Hall, which has an extensive physical infrastructure. Insurance coverage will be provided by UW Equipment Insurance, and will be funded by the College.

b. Does the project have the necessary support, maintenance, and administrative staff to effectively serve users? Yes. Training for and maintenance of the robot arm would be provided by roughly 2 FTE of CBE Fabrication Lab personnel, who currently provide support and training for the Lab's equipment. Computing-wise, the project would be supported by CBE's Computing organization. Student computing in CBE is supported by 2 FTE of technical staff plus approximately 2 FTE of student help desk staff. Other College technical staff members are available to provide additional and/or specialized support as needed.

c. How accessible will support staff be to the students utilizing the technology (i.e. by email, phone, onsite, etc.)? By email, phone, and onsite. Staff are on duty roughly 8am - 7pm weekdays, and are frequently in Gould Hall on weekends. The email help address is monitored nearly 24/7, so critical issues can be addressed even if no-one is on duty.

3. Cost-Benefit

a. Are there broader impacts to funding this technology beyond the proposal's primary use? Yes. CBE students will use this technology to support their design and fabrication work. This work frequently takes the form of collaborative projects among students, often involving professionals from local industry. So the impacts are actually quite broad, encompassing students' individual and group work as well as reputation-enhancing work with the wider design and manufacturing community.

b. Is the money in the budget apportioned in a sensible way that will satisfy the intended needs for the target population? Yes. The proposed robot arm system is specifically configured for workflow, fabrication, and assembly prototyping in education. In addition to extra safety features, the system includes many training modules and equipment designed to make it easy for students to exercise the many functions of the arm in an easily understandable way. The robot arm is a real industrial instrument, so will provide students with experience in automated workflows that may be immediately translated into real-world settings.

c. Will the successful execution of this project significantly benefit UW students in the long-term? Yes. Work in our disciplines involves collaborative design and frequent prototyping. One goal of the iterative loop of design-prototype is to develop a design that can be manufactured. The ready availability of a robot arm will give students the opportunity to experience and learn from the vagaries of automated manufacturing and assembly. This experience, still somewhat unusual among university programs in our disciplines, will help position our students to be immediately effective as they go out into the world.

d. Are the requested technologies appropriate for the project's intended uses? Yes. The goal of the project is to provide a robot arm system that is a serious, real-world tool, but that is both robust and straightforward in operation. The proposed robot arm exactly meets this goal.

e. Are there other resources on campus that fulfill this need? No. Industrial-grade robot arms are specialized tools, and aren't generally available to students on campus.

4. Scholarship

a. Does the project bring significant attention to the UW and/or your department in some way? Yes. It is an extension of CBE's historical dedication to the practice and advancement of making, of craft. In the wider world, the processes and means of creation have expanded in recent years to include digital fabrication and automated manufacturing workflows - even in the creation of such objects as fine furniture (one of the areas in which CBE students excel). Incorporation of digital fabrication resources like the proposed robot arm demonstrates the college's ongoing commitment to craft as a living process - one responsive to change in tools and approaches. This commitment and responsiveness significantly reinforce the reputation of CBE, and by extension of the UW.

b. Does the project provide students with the tools necessary to achieve academic success in their classes and coursework? Yes. The robot arm will provide students with the opportunity to learn how to design for manufacturability using modern, automated industrial processes. This will add a new dimension to what students will be able to accomplish, helping them to achieve success in their coursework, as well as in the professional world.

c. Does the technology provide students with the tools necessary to conduct independent research, research for in-class projects, design projects, competitions, and graduate level research? Yes. The robot arm system would be used for all these things - to explore how a six-axis unit changes the assembly and production workflow, to build class-related projects, to develop an intuition for how the design-prototype loop works in an automated environment, to add to the repertoire of skills and capacities they deploy for competitions, and to expand knowledge of how digital fabrication and assembly processes affect production and the evolving culture of making.

5. Machinery and Research Category Metrics:

a. Will the project enable new forms of innovation and research? Yes. The robot arm system addresses an area in our disciplines that we have not been able to address in a significant way - the use of automated digital fabrication and assembly technologies, and their effect on making. This changes the game - opening new possibilities for creation, as well as for exploring the technical, social, and cultural impacts of the enhanced creative process.

b. Are there domain specific reasons to fund this project above and beyond those listed on this rubric? Yes. Digital fabrication is becoming increasingly important in the disciplines of CBE - for exploring the design-prototype loop, for prototype creation, as well as for the development and production of finished objects. To help our students acquire the skills and experience they need to be competitive in the professions, we need to provide access to modern, highly-capable fabrication tools. The proposed robot arm system is part of a class of fabrication tools to which our students do not currently have access - but with which they need to develop facility and deep understanding in order to be effective in the design disciplines.

c. Is this machinery typically unavailable to students? Yes, this equipment is typically unavailable to students. Robot arm systems are fairly expensive, and required both physical infrastructure and technically skilled faculty and staff in order to be used effectively. The CBE Fabrication Lab has for many years provided a wonderful physical infrastructure, and highly skilled and dedicated faculty and staff. It's a near-ideal environment for making such advanced systems available to the UW student community.

Departmental Endorsements

I have carefully read all three proposals and strongly support all three. Providing access to state-of-the-art equipment is critical to our ability to provide a quality educational experience to our students. Upgrading and expanding our existing equipment loaner set of equipment is needed to support our increased enrollment within the college. The laser cutter and robot arm system represent significant enhancement to our digital fabrication capabilities.

John Schaufelberger
Dean, College of Built Environments


I highly endorse this proposal for a new robot arm for the College of Built Environments, Fabrication Lab. This new tool will give our students direct experience with the newest building systems manufacturing technologies.

David Miller
Chair, Department of Architecture


I endorse these proposals. These are much-needed improvements that will benefit our students.


Jeff Hou, PhD, ASLA
Chair, Landscape Architecture



I endorse these proposals, I particularly like how the proposals put technology into students' hands. This enables our students to learn by doing.

Bill Bender
Chair, Construction Management

Installation Timeline

The equipment would be ordered as soon as funds became available in July, and would be processed and deployed upon arrival,
so would be in place for the start of Autumn Quarter, 2015.

Resources Provided by Department

The CBE Fabrication Lab has roughly two FTE of technical staff available to provide training, support, and maintenance for the robot arm and for other fabrication tools in CBE. The computing equipment associated with this proposal would be supported by the CBE Computing organization, which has 2 FTE of technical staff and roughly 2 FTE of student help desk staff dedicated to the support of student computing in the College.

Ongoing maintenance, operations, and support costs associated with this proposal would be covered by the CBE Fabrication Lab and CBE Computing operations budgets, as appropriate. These budgets are sufficient to cover ongoing costs associated with this proposal.

Access Restrictions (if any)

Use of the robot arm would be restricted to those UW students (CBE and non-CBE) who have been trained by CBE Fabrication Lab personnel. Analogous training sessions for CBE's existing laser cutters are typically offered several times per quarter - we would anticipate a similar frequency for the robot arm, ramping up with demand. The robot arm would be accessible to CBE students 24/7, and to trained UW students outside of CBE during regular building hours for Gould Hall (currently Mon-Thu 8am-9pm, Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 1pm-5pm).

Student Endorsements

This is an important investment for students interested in manufacturing and digital fabrication.

Tiernan Martin
Master of Urban Planning (MUP) Candidate | Class of 2015


I would love a robot arm. I'm on exchange at the Royal Danish Academy right now and we have access to an industrial robot arm which our studio uses for a wide range of projects. The ability to continue my robotics work in Seattle would be great.

John Reynders


Adding a robotic arm to the fab lab will keep us competitive with other schools which are experimenting and teaching at the intersection of technology and architecture. Keeping this vital frontier as a part of our priorities as a college will keep us relevant and attract bright students who desire to work at the exciting edges of academic study in the built environment.

Ivan Heitmann


A Robot Arm System is certainly crucial for the students both in the Design Computing program and the Master of Architecture program to learn about the current trends in professional world of digital fabrication integrated with architectural design and manufacturing.

I think these proposals will be absolutely useful for the students in the College of Built Environments.

Alireza Hashemloo
Master of Architecture
Master of Science in Design Computing


I think this would be great for the school. In particular the robotic arm

David Hansen


Thank you for all your work on figuring this out and drafting the proposals. It would be great if this gets approved. I fully support this proposal.

Jiawen Hu


I am writing to extend my support of these proposals, and to affirm the necessity of such investments for our education. Our ability to use emerging technologies, to explore and create using these tools, is central to our progress and preparation for modern architectural practice. Our limited time in school is our primary opportunity to push boundaries, to research and discover, and we cannot accomplish this without tools (particularly things like the robot arm) that are also pushing the boundaries of building and modeling technology. I hope this can be seen as one of many small steps towards making the CBE at UW a powerful source of contemporary architectural innovation in the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you,
Adam Clements


Having access to high quality equipment is essential to the success of students in the College of Built Environments.

Melissa Gaughan
Master of Urban Planning 2016


I believe these upgrades are vital to the department. As students and young designers exposure to new resources (and the necessary upgrading of existing ones) are essential for helping us push ourselves and our disciplines. I also think of it as important to the College itself so that it can continue to sustain its reputation as a first class institution.

Keeping pace with technology is not just an exercise in technological vanity, but a necessary part of today's world. This is particularly true to the CBE where design and the worlds it creates operate at the intersection of the humanities and technology.

Andrew Prindle


I'm writing to express my support for the CBE Student Tech Fee grant proposals. One of the highlights of UW CBE is the access students have to all the digital tools. Improving student access to digital tools and expanding the palette of digital tools can only make the CBE a better place to study. It will also make the CBE more attractive to potential applicants.

Jason Gover


Mark Baratta has shown great initiative in his proposals for upgrading student technology resources at the College of Built Environments. I know students will be very excited to use upgraded computers and cameras from our loaner pool, as Mark has outlined.

The most exciting proposals include a new laser cutter, drastically improving the capabilities of the CBE's current device. I'm sure everyone at the CBE would also be grateful for the opportunity to use a Robotic Arm System in our pursuit of remaining competitive in automated fabrication technologies.

I support the 3 proposals outlined by Mr. Baratta. I believe it is in the CBE's, and the students who use our facilities, best interest to see these projects come to life. Please extend support to these 3 proposals.

Thank you,
Maksim Kramarevsky


I want to show my emphatic support of the proposals to improve aspects of technology throughout the College of Built Environments.

Thank you.
Kenna Patrick, MLA


I am writing in strong support of the proposals put forth to advance the competitiveness of the College of Built Environment. All of these technology upgrades are vital in order for students to have continued success learning new cutting edge skills that are expected in the job market today.

I whole heartedly support these proposals and think they are very necessary for the CBE.

Josh Saitelbach


I apologize for not being able to write at length, but I want to express my support for these proposals. All three would be wonderful additions to the College's digital curriculum, and I fully endorse student technology funds being used to do so.

Brad Hutchinson
M.Arch 2015


Technology in the College of Built Environments is fundamental to what we do, and having the best possible resources on hand is a must. Even those of us who don't use many of the machines as often as others can appreciate the value of having efficient and fully functional equipment in our libraries, labs and workshops. The vitality and creativity of the College as a whole depends on our ability to remain on the cutting edge, and we all benefit from that, no matter what or how we study.

Daniel Coslett, BE Ph.D. Candidate


I would like to agree with this proposal for new tools within the college.

Michal Okonski


I support all the proposals.


Mia Guo


You have my whole-hearted approval on all three proposals.

Thank you for the thought and time you put into these proposals on behalf of CBE students -- it is very much appreciated!

Very Best,
Catherine M.C. Silva
MUP/MPA Candidate, 2015


As a graduate student of CBE, UW, I think those proposals of new equipment will definitely help the students in many ways. They are also important to help CBE, UW keep pace with other architecture schools around the nation and to take the college's education into a new level.

Mingjun Yin



Group Funded Item Unit price Quantity Subtotal

Robot Arm System

$38,000.00 1 $38,000.00

KORE Package with cart - educational
Quote from KUKA Robotics Corporation
The KORE package includes:
- KR6 R700 six-axis robotic arm
- KRC4 compact controller with power supply, interface, software, documentation (basic controller)
- KUKA smartPAD (full-featured controller, capable of exercising all robot arm functions) with software, mounting bracket
- MEMD mastering set
- KUKA SimPro Server software (10 seats), training materials
- Expandable Education Cart
- System Integration
- KORE program exercise equipment (used in robotics training with the R700)
- interface cables


This is the core of our proposal - to provide a capable, rugged, easy to use robot arm system. Reasons for choosing this particular package include:
1) KUKA robots are an industry standard - not the only one but a dominant player over a wide swath of manufacturing capabilities.
2) KUKA is the most prevalent robot solution in education with by far the largest educational user-group.
3) KUKA has given us very aggressive pricing for a suite of tools that don't just model or mimic, but actually replicate professional manufacturing conditions.
4) The control of a KUKA robot can be done using MasterCAM, a software solution we already own and have years of experience with - or programmed using Rhino and Grasshopper, applications which have been central elements of CBE's digital fabrication activities for many years.

sales tax

$3,610.00 1 $3,610.00

sales/use tax


sales/use tax

Total requested: $41,610.00

Total funded: $41,610.00


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