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Stjepan Rajko, MFA

May 10, 2009

Grad combines computer science with dance

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 will receive 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 p.a.v.e., the performing arts venture experience program, which supports arts entrepreneurship. 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.”