Dennis Pierattini

Fabrication Lab
School of Design

dennis pierattini

How long have you worked at Penn?
“Since there were dinosaurs.” (Or about 27 years.)

Describe your job.
“In the vernacular, we keep everything running and there are enormous systems in place here—the whole system of woodworking, laser cutting. ... The main thing that we do here is anybody who walks through the door who has a design issue or a construction issue, we work with them on an individual basis and read into the project and help them to realize it. We take theoretical and turn it into physical output using whatever within the arsenal of tools and techniques we have.”

What’s the best part of your job?
“I get a new crop of students every year, fresh minds. People who are 18, 19, 20 years old are very, very current; you don’t get a chance to get stale in what you do.”

Any memorable projects over the years?
“What rings my bell is that ‘ah-ha’ moment when you’re talking to a student and they have some idea of what they want to do and don’t know how to get to it … it’s this transformative moment when they understand the concept and it’s this flash of insight. It’s all very new for them. You have to pay service to that. You can’t get bored with that.”

You work in a pretty unique setting—a fabrication lab that’s in a school building in the middle of campus. What makes it special for you?
“The students come in here, they have a certain amount of energy. There’s nothing sedentary about using this stuff. It’s a physical and emotional and mental energy that’s very vibrant.”