A graduate of Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), Elizabeth Boone, MArch ’10, is already establishing a name for herself in the industry as the recipient of an R+D Award from Architect magazine. Add to the accolade her work on impressive projects, such as a high-rise in Manhattan and hotel in Shanghai, and it’s easy to see why she’s employed at one of the leading architectural firms in the world.

Boone hails from Louisville, Kentucky, and credits the education and training she received at CAP in digital design and fabrication for helping her land her job as a junior architectural professional at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). While at Ball State, Boone learned how to use digital fabrication and building information modeling (BIM)—a modern architectural concept pioneered by SOM.

“Firms expect recent graduates to know BIM now,” Boone told a group of students when she returned to Ball State to give a lecture titled “The Myth of the Architectural Model” in September 2011. At SOM’s New York City office, she is a member of the firm’s Digital Design Group, which focuses on the digital processes of project development.

BIM allows architects to create 3-D models of their designs on the computer, which can then be translated for realization—the process of turning the digital design into a physical model or even full-scale project. BIM is becoming the industry norm for architects moving away from 2-D computer-aided design (CAD) and blueprints.

At Ball State, CAP teams with the Institute for Digital Fabrication (IDF) to offer a graduate certificate program in digital design and fabrication and to provide the college with advanced fabrication technologies. During her master of architecture studies, Boone chose a concentration in digital fabrication and worked as a graduate assistant and research fellow at the IDF. Boone says the institute connects students with a large network of designers, architects, and other intellectuals.

“When it comes to the domain of digital design and fabrication, CAP is one of the most influential institutions in the world,” says CAP Dean Guillermo Vasquez de Velasco. “Both our undergraduate and graduate students have access to all the resources that, in other institutions, are reserved for the use of faculty doing research. We believe immersive learning at CAP is creating design thinkers that will create the disciplines, professions, and jobs of the future.”

Case in point—the way Ball State’s Digital Fabrication Lab influenced Boone’s career. Known endearingly as the Fab Lab by students, this state-of-the-art facility contains equipment for designing and making 1:1 prototypes of building components, as well as smaller scale models.

Boone adds that learning about fabrication as a graduate student made her a more marketable hire in the industry. “The digital fabrication process has become increasingly more common,” she says. “It has allowed me to physically produce my designs and taught me how to effectively communicate with manufacturers.”