Computational Fabrication

Examples of computational design and digital fabrication, from left to right: Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center, ceramics by Bryan Czibesz, lamp by Nervous Sytem, bench by Genesis Design, dress by Iris van Herpen

Spring 2021, Special Topics in Computer Science: CS491 and CS591

Computational fabrication combines computer programming with digital fabrication. Computational fabrication enables people to design digital forms by writing code and then construct these forms via fabrication machines like 3D printers, CNC routers, knitting machines, and laser cutters. Students will explore different algorithms, machines, and materials by designing and creating a series of objects.

Students will be introduced to computer-aided-design (CAD) software for 2D and 3D design along with programming languages aimed at the design of physical artifacts. The course will also cover the process of converting digital designs to physical form through computer-aided machining (CAM). Finally, we will explore research opportunities related to computational design and fabrication.

Here is a syllabus for a similar class taught by one of my former students, Jennifer Jacobs, at UCSB in spring 2020. While my class will be different, this should give you a sense of some of the topics we will cover.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, classes will take place remotely. This means that you will have no (or limited) access to fabrication equipment on the UNM campus. Because of this situation, we are planning to rely on inexpensive fabrication machines that you will use at home. You will need to have access to a basic printer (something like this) and will be expected to purchase at least one of the following machines to participate in the class:

A small number of vinyl cutters and 3D printers are available to loan to students who cannot afford purchasing their own.