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Taylor House/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Engineering senior Indra Wiryadinata demonstrates the Artist Interface System, a program for artists with cerebral palsy created by Engineers 4 the Arts, a group of six UA engineering students. The device on Wiryadinata's head controls a cursor onscreen to choose drawing tools.
By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
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Design day program showcases artwork

Artists with cerebral palsy now have a new way to create their work thanks to a group of UA engineering students.

Engineers 4 the Arts, a group of six UA engineering students, have designed an Artist Interface System that allows artists with cerebral palsy, an umbrella term for a group of chronic disorders impairing control of movement, to create art using a computer, laser and menu options.

The project was designed as part of the students' class work and was created for Arts for All Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing accessible education, training and experience in the arts for children, particularly those with special needs.

Gerard Kimbuende, an electrical engineering senior and member of the team that worked on the project, said the program took a year to complete. He said the system helps bridge the communication gap for artists with cerebral palsy.

"It's very exciting, we've had a very good response," Kimbuende said.

Angela Foss, a computer engineering senior and project team member, said there was already a program for artists with cerebral palsy in place at Arts for All, but it was too slow.

"We created more menu options so that the artist can chose what they want to do faster," Foss said. "It speeds up communication."

Michelle Olson, an artist with cerebral palsy, said she's been creating artwork for three years.

"This makes an artist's life a lot easier," Olson said. "It's more exact."

Arts for All Inc. will get all of the equipment that goes with the Artist Interface System, including items funded by the engineering department and a laptop donated by IBM, Foss said.

Marcia Berger, the Executive Director of Arts for All Inc., said she knew her organization wanted the students to work on something to help artists with cerebral palsy, but had no idea it would be this good.

"This is way more than we ever thought," she said. "It's revolutionary."

The system will help create more communication and expression opportunities for those with cerebral palsy, Berger said.

The Artist Interface System and several other projects created by engineering students were on display yesterday at the Electrical and Computer Engineering/Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Design Day in the Student Union Memorial Center.



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