University of Idaho - I Banner
A student works at a computer


U of I's web-based retention and advising tool provides an efficient way to guide and support students on their road to graduation. Login to VandalStar.

CAD/Computer Research Lab

The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences features a Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Research Lab on the second floor of the Niccolls Building.

This space primarily shared between the nutrition and apparel, textiles and design programs, but is available for other FCS programs as well.

Our digital tools include:

  • Four student computers and one teaching computer, each equipped with Adobe Creative Suite, Optitex Digital Patternmaking software and SPSS for statistical analysis of research data
  • 42” color printer (can print patterns and large research posters)
  • 42” wall-mounted monitor connected to the instructor’s computer
  • Scanner for research surveys
  • Web camera for video conferences
  • Laser printer
  • Glowforge laser cutter
  • Two Lulzbot 3D printers
  • Hovercam document camera

Student Experiences

The CAD/Computer Research Lab provides FCS students with better tools and learning experiences. Browse their reviews below:

FCS Instructor Lori Wahl taught Digital Patternmaking using the Optitex software now available in the CAD/Computer Research Lab.

Digital patterns are commonly used in modern garment development and production and allow for faster pattern creation, easy pattern changes, automatic grading into sizes and creation of digital files that can be emailed to factories anywhere in the world.

Students are required to have completed Patternmaking and Garment Construction courses prior to taking Digital Patternmaking, as a strong understanding of pattern drafting and garment construction is needed before creating digital patterns.

Upon completion of a set of basic patterns, students then move on to a garment design and pattern of their own choosing and adding grading, graded specifications and marker making.

“It’s exciting because it is providing me with new tools to further my career in the apparel industry and help me gain a better understanding of contemporary clothing for my garment alterations business, Altered Ego.” — Chelsey Lewallen

“The drafting process is a lot faster, making it easier to realize designs in a shorter amount of time. I can play with pattern shapes in Optitex while conceptualizing the garment construction. This saves paper and time because I don’t have to draft each option separately on paper.” — Joyce Sun

“Learning digital patternmaking makes me feel more comfortable and confident as I prepare for a career in apparel design. I’m gaining insight and practical skills in current apparel pattern development processes.” — Ashley Anderson

“Digital patternmaking gives you the ability to make whatever you want.” — Krista Baker

The new technologies available in the CAD/Computer Research Lab enhance undergraduate research opportunities, like dietetics student Kate Imthurn’s research for a community nutrition course.

Imthurn implemented a Vandal football team needs assessment. With the help of Vandal Athletics, Samantha Ramsay and Katie Brown, she collected and analyzed data that was shared at the Washington/Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Joint Meeting and the University of Idaho innovation showcase in April 2014.

“My participation in undergraduate research allowed me to gain experience in the field of sports dietetics, the career I am pursuing. It allowed me to see firsthand what research entails instead of just learning about it in a classroom setting."

"When applying to graduate school, it put me above other candidates who had not participated in research. I have recently been accepted to graduate school with a, assistantship covering my full tuition and living expenses."

"It took extra time and work, but it all paid off. Not only for me personally, but also for the football team who will benefit from changes instigated by the findings of this research.” — Kate Imthurn, dietetic student

To support the CAD/Computer Research Lab, contact Jen Root at 208-885-4087 or


University of Idaho

Physical Address:
Mary Hall Niccolls Building, Rm 103
751 Campus Drive

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Dr. MS 3183
Moscow, ID 83844-3183

Phone: 208-885-6546

Fax: 208-885-5751




Mailing Address:
322 E. Front Street, Suite 180
Boise, ID 83702

Phone: 208-334-2999

Fax: 208-364-4035




Mailing Address:
1031 N. Academic Way, Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814-2277

Phone: 208-667-2588

Fax: 208-664-1272