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ASU Arts, Media and Engineering program receives $3 million for experiential media research

October 12, 2005

TEMPE, Ariz One of Arizona State University's ground-breaking interdisciplinary units - the two year-old Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) program - has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation for an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program. The NSF IGERT grant will provide five years of graduate fellowships to help AME create a new class of media scientists.

"The framework of this IGERT allows for integrated media research and education across the arts, sciences and engineering," says Thanassis Rikakis, AME program director. "It will help AME train a new generation of hybrid media scientists-artists who will bridge the gap between computation and physical experience to produce technological advances for education, health, communication, arts and culture, and everyday living."

A joint program of the Herberger College of Fine Arts and Fulton School of Engineering, AME is an interdisciplinary network of academic programs from the areas of fine art, computer science, electrical engineering, bioengineering, education, psychology and kinesiology. The design, sociology, human evolution and social change, and life sciences units also participate. Nearly 40 faculty from 12 disciplines oversee AME's integrated research and application areas. Graduate students work closely with faculty to create experiential media systems that integrate computation and digital media with the physical human experience to produce enhanced physical-digital experiences.

This is the second large NSF grant for the young AME program. Last year the program received a $1.1 million NSF grant to study real-time motion analysis. AME also received a technology grant for $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003 for its motione project. AME also participated in a joint NSF grant with ASU's Computer Science and Engineering department, which was awarded $450,000 to study the real-time connection of different types of sensing and display media systems.

"Thanks to AME's collective efforts, ASU is at the forefront of advancing experiential media and one significant step closer to realizing its potential," said ASU President Michael Crow. "Years of intensive, creative and thoughtful collaboration went into this proposal."

Examples of experiential media applications currently in development at AME include biofeedback for movement rehabilitation; technologies that encourage active learning in K-12; systems for assisting everyday living and social communication; movement analysis and training that can be applied to the fields of dance, theatre, sports, firefighting, security and the military; and systems for interactive arts and networked, communal, creative activities.

IGERT funding will support Ph.D. students who are pursuing an AME concentration in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, Psychology, Education, Bioengineering and Kinesiology.

"As a relative latecomer to the ranks of research universities, one of ASU's most successful strategies has been to find unusual interdisciplinary niches in which to make its mark," said Jonathan Fink, Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs. "Our previous IGERTs in urban ecology, motor control and nanobiotechnology were all in areas that built novel bridges across the sciences and engineering. The Arts, Media and Engineering program has dramatically expanded this approach by bringing in the fine arts. The fact that AME has recently been able to get two major awards through the National Science Foundation is a resounding testament to the compelling nature of their vision."

The Division of Graduate Studies plays a crucial role in the acquisition and coordination of IGERT grants at ASU.

The principal investagator for this NSF award is Thanassis Rikakis. The co-principal investigators are Hari Sundaram (Computer Science & Engineering), Andreas Spanias (Electrical Engineering), Jiping He (Bioengineering), Wilhelmina Savenye (Education) and Michael McBeath (Psychology).

"IGERT support will help AME continue to establish innovative models for graduate education and training in a collaborative environment that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries," Rikakis said.

For more information about the AME visit For the NSF announcement visit: 

Media Contact:
Denise Tanguay