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Students engineer more than just numbers

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Mary Faure thinks engineering and art go hand in hand.

“In the traditional engineering curriculum — even today when it’s very engaging and moving forward — there isn’t really a place for students to express their individual creativity,” said Faure, manager of engineering technology communication for the Engineering Education and Innovation Center .

On Tuesday afternoon to encourage combining engineering and art, EEIC hosted its Creative Writing and Arts Contest, open to all students, faculty and staff. Faure said the contest allows students to do some non-engineering work that shows off their creative side.

Engineering students, staff and faculty could submit work in art and writing categories. Art categories included 2-D, 3-D and multimedia. Writing categories were fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. EEIC received 85 total entries.

Writing and art displays were around the room in Scott Laboratory where the event took place and a slideshow at the front of the room displayed photos of all submitted art and excerpts from submitted writing pieces. Music from the Kronos Quartet played over speakers to help create a gallery atmosphere and refreshments were served.

Writing pieces included haikus paying tribute to Hitchcock Hall and poems written in extensive Java code that both a computer and person could read. Art pieces ranged from microscope images taken during welding labs to watercolor portrait paintings.

First-, second- and third-place winners, along with honorable mentions of every category, received a certificate. First-place winners also received an engraved crystal award and a Barnes & Noble gift card.

Winners were determined by a panel of eight judges. Six were EEIC affiliated and the other two were Laura León, a graduate student in the Departments of Design, and Department of English senior lecturer Jenny Patton.

Alex Aurand, a graduate student in industrial and systems engineering, won first place in the fiction category for his piece, “Taillights,” a short story about an autistic seventh-grade boy whose brother dies in a bus accident. The story focuses on how the boy and his family cope.

“I find that the creative writing process is extraordinarily similar to the engineering design process,” Aurand said.

In both engineering and creative writing, Aurand said, the creator must explore all possible ideas and solutions and then hone it down to one final idea.

Other students used art as a way to escape the engineering way of thinking.

Kate Raftery, a fourth-year in chemical engineering, created a watercolor painting of two figures intertwining, symbolizing dependence.

“Usually when I get super stressed out, I find (art) a good place to go to to relax and get my mind off things for a little while,” Raftery said.

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