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M.F.A. Graphic Design Students Win Top Awards at Prestigious Competition

Graduate students win honors at "Autism Connects" Design Challenge and leave an imprint on technology for autistic individuals

Posted 05.06.11 by MICA COMMUNICATIONS

Graphic Design students Noel Cunningham '12 and Cameron Zotter '12 won second and third place, respectively, at "Autism Connects" Design Challenge. The competition was organized by Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, in partnership with Core 77, the leading international information source and advocate for product design.

iPad application of weSYNCCunningham won second place for her submission, weSYNC, and was chosen as the fifth favorite in the community voting. Her submission is an application designed for the web, iPad and iPhone. It helps children, with heavy work schedules and Autism Spectrum Disorder, work with parents, educators, doctors and therapists on a daily basis by gathering knowledge from each caregiver and establishes a dialogue between them. This, in turn, helps everyone involved to re-enforce one another's efforts. "Because the spectrum is so broad, it is important to evaluate each person's needs on an individual basis as we determine their care options," Cunningham previously said.


A girl wearing a protype of the Visual WatchZotter was selected as the third favorite in the community voting and won third place for her submission, Visual Watch. The device, worn on the wrist, is a time management and picture exchange communication system (PECS) tool that answered the call for convience and compatibility- it replaces a bulky notebook filled with PECS picture cards that would otherwise be carried around. New communication pictures can be uploaded to the watch for the user to develop an extensive vocabulary. "With this product, my goal is to increase autistic children's communication abilities and ultimately to ensure better inclusion into society."