Passions for dance, technology lead to art, engineering degrees

May 8, 2009

Stjepan Rajko says he came to ASU “because of the opportunities to combine work in two things I love.”

The Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) program, a partnership of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering and Herberger College of the Arts, enabled him to mix passions for computer science and contemporary dance.

In May, Rajko received a master’s of fine arts degree in dance. In August, he will receive a Ph.D. in computer science.

Final projects for his degrees blend his knowledge in the two areas.

He has used his dance training in research to expand the range and depth of interactivity between humans and computers. His projects focus on enabling computers to recognize and analyze human movements and gestures.

Another project is development of software for mobile phones to enable choreographers or theater directors to conveniently record and organize audio notes while watching rehearsals.

Creativity in meshing art and technology has brought Rajko support from a National Science Foundation fellowship and the Performing Arts Venture Experience program, which supports entrepreneurship in the arts. Rajko and a small team of fellow ASU students used funding from the program to form a nonprofit group that is developing new ways of combining technology and art.

The Arts, Media and Engineering program “brings together a really interesting array of people and ideas,” says the 30-year-old native of Croatia. “They challenge you to cross conventional boundaries between different areas of expertise. That opened up my thinking about how dance and computer science could relate to each other.” Download Full Image

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Women's golf makes statement with win at the West Regional

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The No. 1 Arizona State women's golf team let the rest of the college golf world know that they are ready for the NCAA Championships. The Sun Devils won the NCAA West Regional by 19 strokes for their second straight tournament win and fifth of the season. The Sun Devils shot a school record 22-under 842 (273-283-286) to finish 19 strokes ahead of second place USC. ASU will qualify for its 18th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, which is the nation's current longest streak. Other teams that qualified from the West Regional included: USC, LSU, TCU, UC Irvine, Texas, Arizona and Pepperdine. Alice Kim of UC Davis and Cathryn Bristow of Oregon qualified as individuals. Download Full Image

"I'm a very happy coach right now," said head coach Melissa">">M... Luellen with a big smile. "[Associate coach] Missy [Farr-Kaye] made the comment to the girls a couple weeks ago and said, `You know if we play the way we're supposed to play, we going to win by 20.' Twenty is a lot, so we're pretty pumped."

Freshman Carlota">">C... Ciganda made it two in a row as she took medalist honors. Ciganda finished 10-under 206 (67-68-71) to win the West Regional ahead of USC's Jennifer Song. Ciganda's tournament score ranks fourth on ASU's all-time best three round score list.

"She was a little shaky coming in," said Luellen on her freshman. "She only hit one green coming in on the last four and her short game was there. That would be may be her `not-as-confident area,' but she made a couple par putts on 17 and 18 that were huge."

Juliana">">Ju... Murcia tied for third. The Colombian shot a career-best 8-under 208 (68-70-70) for her fourth top-10 finish of the season. Azahara">">Aza... Munoz carded a 4-under 212 for her sixth top 10 finish of the season. Munoz finished tied for sixth after shooting even par in the final round."><... href="Jennifer">">J... Osborn shot an even 216 (69-74-73). The senior finished tied for 13th for her fourth straight top 20 finish. Jaclyn">">Ja... Sweeney finished the tournament at 7-over 223 (73-75-75).

The win gave the Sun Devils a first seed in the NCAA Championship. The team will be paired with NCAA Central Regional winner UCLA and East Regional champion Denver. The NCAA Championships will be held at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owing Mills, Md., May 19-22.

"Our players are thrilled about being paired with UCLA and Denver. They like the UCLA girls and they love the Denver girls," said Luellen on the team's NCAA pairing. "It's really important to go in as a number one seed. What a statement they made!"