Hite Art Institute students outside of FirstBuild.

There are many tools in the artist’s tool box — paint brushes, charcoal, pencils. But at the University of Louisville, students also work with water jets, 3-D printers and powerful laser cutters.

Classes at the UofL Hite Art Institute have found many ways to incorporate these tools, available on-campus in the GE Appliances-backed FirstBuild makerspace and microfactory. The printmaking studio, for example, has used the facility’s equipment to cut stones used in the printing process. 

“It’s pretty limitless,” said Rachel Singel, an assistant professor at Hite. “It’s just real … a dream to have those facilities available,” she said, adding that it allows students to experiment with new tools and broaden their perspectives by working with people in other fields.

Another instructor, Power Designer-in-Residence Leslie Friesen, used FirstBuild to teach design. She brought her class there to produce 3-D elements for a project, in part, to give them experience with different equipment, materials and methods of production.

“I think it’s really nice having the engineers and the designers work together,” said Amber Kleitz, a student in the design class. “Having all of these different facets of my design career, even as a student, I feel that I can show how versatile I am.”