Featured Projects and Courses

Making, Fabrication, and Design on Campus

Many of Wellesley College's departments, ranging from Classical Civilization to Computer Science, utilize making and fabrication workflows, tools, and methodologies. These projects have been integrated into coursework in order to provide unique learning opportunities. Other projects are using digital fabrication to enhance existing research initiatives, as well as discover new methods for conducting research across many disciplines at Wellesley College.

Click here to see some projects that Knapp Interns have completed since 2002, and here to see projects that have been completed with the help of our talented RIS group.

Featured Courses

Below are some Wellesley College courses that have featured making, fabrication, or digital design as a core learning goal.

Astronomy 202: Hands-On Planetary Exploration | Wes Watters

Wes Watters

Students in Professor Watters' Astronomy 202 class developed their own projects to explore challenging environments, while learning skills such as computer programming, electronics, 3D printing, laser cutting, and others. Projects included Lil Pho (360° image and sound probe), HAB Solo (high altitude balloon probe), YELLO submarine (yoked electronic lake observer), 1 Luftballon (a project measuring the atmospheric opacity and environmental lapse rate), QuEEnBAE (quadcopter to measure and map Wellesley's lower atmosphere), and HAWK (an instrumented rocket experiment).

Engineering 111: Product Creation for All | Amy Banzaert

Students in Professor Amy Banzaert's First Year Seminar, ENGR 111, worked with para-rowers at Community Rowing, Inc. in Boston to design and prototype assistive devices for rowing and daily living.  Working closely with rowers, students brainstormed, developed and refined product ideas and created or reengineered products using a sewing machine and other tools in the FiberSpace in Knapp, in addition to the Wellesley Engineering Laboratory (We-Lab) and the Wellesley Costume Shop.

Anthropology 207: Human Evolution | Adam Van Arsdale

Students in Adam Van Arsdale's human evolution course were able to develop group research projects based on the newly discovered/published/named species of fossil hominin, Homo naledi, by printing out 3D models of some of the fossils themselves. The researchers responsible for the discovery and publication of these fossils, from the Rising Star Cave in South Africa, released 3D-models of the specimens concurrent with their initial publication on the open-access website, morphosource.org. This opportunity to work directly with fossil material, in the classroom, so soon after publication has historically been rare in paleoanthropology.

Featured Projects

Below are some projects innovated by Wellesley faculty, staff, and students over the years that feature making, fabrication, or digital design as a core principle.


Hominin Mandibular Variation: Anthropology Research | Adam Van Arsdale

Adam Van Arsdale:

In 2014, I was invited by Dr. Dan Adler (University of Connecticut) to collaborate on an ongoing project investigating Late Pleistocene human evolution in Armenia, co-organized by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (Yerevan, Armenia). One of the archaeological sites under investigation by Adler and his team, the rock shelter of Lusakert, has provided a large and compelling archaeological sample of stone tools and animal remains.


However, the cave has only provided one human fossil--a small, rather unremarkable bit of mandible. Although fragmentary, the mandible offered the possibility of definitively tying the archaeological materials found at the site to a population of humans--likely either an archaic population such as “Neandertals,” or an anatomically modern group of Homo sapiens. I was asked to analyze the morphology of the mandible in order to address this question.


To aid in my endeavor, I decided to create a virtual reconstruction of the mandible, Lusakert 1, to provide me with a greater amount of anatomical information. Using 3D data from the original specimen, collected by a CT-scan of the original specimen in Yerevan, I was able to create a mirror-image of the better preserved right side of the specimen, and create a virtual “composite” model of the specimen. A 3D-printout of the virtual model allowed me to manually compare its accuracy against the original specimen, while also gathering additional measurement data to assist in the analysis of the specimen’s morphology.


1 image of 3D printed Hominin Mandibular, 1 image of Hominin Mandibular in 3D modeling program

Digital Eleon: 3D Documentation and Analysis of Excavations in Greece | Bryan Burns and Jordan Tynes

Bryan Burns and Jordan Tynes


Our program of three-dimensional modeling and fabrication is transforming the way we conduct archaeological fieldwork at ancient Eleon in central Greece. Working with a suite of portable equipment, funded through a Friends of the Library research grant, we are recording the excavation's results through hand-held 3D scanning and sophisticated drone photography. These technologies enable our research team to record information at varying scales, analyze architecture and finds from new perspectives, and engage scholarly and popular communities through interactive media. This invaluable set of imagery is also aiding our work restoring artifacts and was quickly incorporated into the decision-making process that guides the excavation progress.

Side-by-side comparison of an aerial photograph of excavation site vs the same excavation site as a 3D photogrammetric model

Antiquities Today: New Perspectives on Davis Museum Artifacts | Bryan Burns, Kimberly Cassibry, and Jordan Tynes

Bryan Burns, Kimberly Cassibry, and Jordan Tynes

As part of an advanced seminar held in Spring 2016, students researched the history of exhibition for the Mediterranean antiquities held by the Davis Museum. 3D models – created through the combined efforts of LTS, Davis staff, and Knapp Technology Interns – enabled students to also consider new potentials for the display of artifacts in the galleries and through new media. The high quality of scanning technology gives all viewers new access to objects, considering three-dimensional works from new perspectives and simulating interaction with hand-held artifacts.

Side-by-side comparison of a statue bust vs the bust as a 3D model

Chasing Infinity | David Teng Olsen

David Teng Olsen

Chasing Infinity, 2014 (excerpt) 1977 Chevy Van, stained glass, MDF, enamel and six-channel interactive video Dimensions variable ​ - text by Michael Maizels, “New View 2014 Faculty Exhibition,” the Davis, 2014. 72-78 ​ David Teng-Olsen’s art is curiously, restlessly and insistently autobiographical. He uses himself as what he calls a “test subject” and draws on his unusual, but nevertheless quintessentially American, life story to examine how and why we construct our own peculiar self-understandings. The undertones of experimentation and the pursuit of knowledge in his art betray his abiding interest in science and early academic training in bioengineering.

Text by Michael Maizels, “New View 2014 Faculty Exhibition,” the Davis, 2014. 72-78

Art for Spooks | Nicholas A. Knouf, Claudia Pederson

Nicholas A. Knouf, Claudia Pederson

Art for Spooks is an augmented book that takes a poetic angle to electronic surveillance. It combines texts and images from “leaked” NSA documents that evidence mundane concerns of NSA employees with grooming etiquette, gossip and surveillance at the work place; the development of encryption and psychological profiling tools modeled on alleged historical links between magicians and the military; and a delirious imaginary steeped in the world of modern folklore, populated as is with UFOs, popular media archetypes of evil and good, as well as (apparently) a taste for buffalo meat, high art, and orientalist and gendered themes. These materials are juxtaposed with graphics read through a tablet interface.

SynFlo: An interactive museum exhibit for exploring bio-design | Orit Shaer, Johanna Okerlund '14, Lauren Westendorf '15, Casey Grote '15, Ryuhi Segreto '15, Anja Scholze, Romie Litrell

Johanna Okerlund '14, Lauren Westendorf '15, Casey Grote '15, Ryuhi Segreto '15, Orit Shaer, Anja Scholze, Romie Litrell

SynFlo is a tangible museum exhibit for exploring bio-design. The goal is to engage children in a simulation of a biology experiment in a playful and safe way, outside of the wet lab. We integrated small interactive displays within 3D printed casing to connect the displays with authentic lab ware. Children participate in the experiment by imitating the gestures of scientists in the lab.
The exhibit was displayed in the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose California.

BacPack for New Frontiers | Orit Shaer, Anna Loparev, Margaret Flemmings, Jennifer Cho, Vivien Chen

Anna Loparev, Margaret Flemmings, Jennifer Cho, Vivien Chen, Orit Shaer, Tech Museum of Innovation

BacPack for New Frontiers is an interactive museum exhibit that introduces core synthetic biology concepts to visitors through novel modes of interaction, bridging size and time scales by combining tangible tokens with a large multitouch table display. It engages users in the design and engineering of bacteria for sustaining a research mission on Mars, providing a collaborative platform for creative engagement with digital biological creations.