UF grad-created gadget speeds art process

In Alumni Spotlight, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, News

UF graduate Liza Kholodkova paints a mural, which she outlined with a robot she developed, on a hallway in the College of Engineering building

Originally published at Gainesville.com.

Liza Kholodkova used to be frustrated at the amount of time and effort spent sketching a mural on a wall — a process that used to take days, and even weeks, by hand. Now she has a robot do it for her.

Her invention, named Botsy, helps artists get the job done faster by automatically drawing any design on a vertical surface. The robot uses software to generate a control file that can be sent via Bluetooth to start outlining.

“It really helps speed up the creative process,” Kholodkova said.

The 25-year-old created Botsy’s prototype after graduating from the University of Florida with a dual degree in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering in 2015. It took her two years to finalize the product.

Last year, the University of Florida’s Integrated Product and Process Design program commissioned her to create a mural in the department’s hallway at the College of Engineering.

After finding an artist best suited to create the design, she began preparing for what will be the largest mural her robot will create.

The piece, which will be 30-by-6 feet, features diverse technologies and disciplines involved in IPPD, including images of drones and 3D-printers.

“The mural is going to make the hallway more unique and personal,” she said. “It’s a physical representation of the spirit of IPPD.”

IPPD Director Keith Stanfill said he commissioned Kholodkova because he wanted to make the hallway more memorable to students.

“There wasn’t anything inspiring about our hallway before,” he said. “I thought this mural would be a great way to blend art and technology, which speaks to what we want our engineers to be: well-rounded people.”

Stanfill, who also taught Kholodkova, said he was impressed with her speedy progress with the mural.

The outline would have normally taken at least one week, Kholodkova said. Botsy finished it in four hours.

“I want this hallway to inspire people before they walk through the door to the design lab and I want folks visiting to remember this place,” said Stanfill.

See a video of Botsy in action at WCJB.com.