In the Maker Lab, we’ve been conducting an environmental scan of the digital fabrication research happening on Canadian and U.S. campuses, with an emphasis on research labs, centres, and hubs. Searching for what scholars across the disciplines are doing with computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), we have thus far identified 79 such spaces, most of which are in the sciences, engineering, and architecture. Gathering data for the geographic locations of these spaces, together with their departments and institutions as well as their mandates and URLs, we’ve also noticed that a majority has more than one computer numerical control (CNC) machine (e.g., a CNC router).
Although we are not surprised, we learned that hardly any—and arguably no—CAM research space in Canada or the U.S. is based in the humanities. Some of the research is located in libraries, a bit of it is interdisciplinary, and a significant minority of it is anchored in art history and fine arts. Still, we are left wondering not only how humanities scholars might engage CAM and CNC research but also how humanities approaches to fabrication infrastructures might differ from, and overlap with, those of other disciplines. In other words, what should humanities spaces for digital fabrication look like? As CNC and CAM research expands, we imagine this question will be of considerable importance to fields such as digital humanities.
For now, you can download a spreadsheet (screengrab below) containing the data from our environmental scan. If you see an error, if you notice a research space is missing from our list, or if you’d prefer a format other than XLSX, then please let us know. Thank you!