UF dance professor Tzveta Kassabova yelled at engineering students wearing gym shorts and T-shirts. They responded by throwing their arms out, going limp and falling to the floor of the dance studio.
Among those exploding was Stephanie Bagiardi, a 23-year-old UF industrial and systems engineering senior. But a dance studio is the last place she thought she would be while studying engineering.
The design capstone in the College of Engineering is structured the same every semester: Students are challenged to take a problem presented from a company and develop a more efficient or cheaper product than what they were given.
But for the first time, students are required to create an interpretive dance to go along with their final projects.
At the beginning of the semester, Bagiardi’s design class was given five words and was told to portray them through dance moves.
“Those have been very interesting,” she said. “Watching engineers dance is a fun thing.”
On Wednesday at 4 p.m., the class will perform in select locations throughout the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. The dances range from four to 10 minutes long.
“We’re like the guinea pig class for this,” Bagiardi said.
Her group built a curriculum planning website that runs an algorithm to create a recommended college graduation plan. They will be performing an interpretive dance based on their project to an instrumental version of “Square One” by Coldplay.
The engineering students were put into nine groups this semester and were teamed up with dancers from the College of Fine Arts. With the techniques they learned from the dance classes, each team was tasked with explaining their product through dance choreography using the dancers.
“The idea is to cross-pollinate and see how we learn from each other,” said Elif Akcali, an industrial and systems engineering associate professor, who is heading this new portion of the course made possible by a grant given from the provost’s office.
Andrew Daw, a 21-year-old UF industrial and systems engineering senior, said he is looking forward to taking the class in Spring 2015 because the course helps engineering students not take things so seriously.
Additionally, design students are also taking classes in cartoon and drawing to enhance their storytelling skills.
“We all have analytical minds and are black and white when it comes to things,” Bagiardi said, “so this is trying to get us to think in that gray area of being creative.”
A version of this story ran on page 1 on 11/5/2013 under the headline "UF engineers dance with designs"