The formal Art for All (AfA) project was initiated in the fall of 2016 with the goal to team first year engineering students with second year art students to develop assistive devices that help persons with disabilities express themselves in art. An additional AfA goal is to illustrate to engineering students the benefit of collaboration outside of their discipline.
The AfA project requires that the engineering and art students work together to understand the boundaries of the client when creating the art product and to brainstorm and select the best solution. The engineering students then design, build, and test the solution, including the client and art students as needed. Upon completion, the finished device is delivered to the user or the customer’s facility.
The courses included in this project are the freshman Introduction to Engineering Design course and the sophomore Figure Drawing course. At first glance these courses have little in common. However, the art students and the engineering students work through similar design processes to develop their end products and thus can work together to develop solutions. The courses are also complementary. Due to course curriculum, the art students think about how the body interacts and how to communicate this interaction. Thus they can help expand the engineering students’ design space by providing an understanding of how those with disabilities may use their bodies or extensions of their bodies to create art.
This paper reports on the progress of this project over the last 1.5 years. During this time the project has moved from initiating the activities to completing and delivering 11 art tools to various clients in the community. The project also presented the student created art tools, the associated client created art products, and examples of the student team design process products in a spring Art for All Art Gallery. In addition, two student teams presented their work at the ASEE Zone II Conference and one more team, that includes engineering students and an art student, will present a design solution at the spring 2018 ASEE SE Conference. This paper also reports on the effects this collaboration has had on the engineering and art professors involved in the project, especially how it has affected their presenting the topic of design to their students.
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