Engineers and Scientists, Unlock Your Inner Artist

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It was recently brought to my attention (I feel late to the game) that “Art” was added last year to educational curricula focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), creating a sub-group called STEAM.

This is fantastic news. As both an artist (guitarist) and a scientist (geology), I believe when you connect engineering and science with arts we have the potential to build an environment where innovation and creativity will flourish and problems can be tackled in ways not previously considered.

I personally believe the artist is one of the most important individuals in our society along with teachers, scientists and engineers.  Artists can inspire and they challenge our conventional, systematic way of thinking.  We are all artistic, and triggering this part of our brain is important as we grow older and work with our clients to solve problems.  There are real-world examples that prove innovators can learn from artists and that arts provide great lessons in leadership. Many of our greatest scientists and leaders were musicians and artists – Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Prince Charles, Thomas Jefferson, Steve Martin, Neil Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Thomas Edison…the list goes on.

Why should we discover art in our free time?

Art and music are the ultimate form of communication. They have the ability to cross cultures, languages and geographic boundaries. Art opens up the mind to different realities, and these artistic perspectives challenge our conventional thinking to further promote creative thought.  Additionally, visual and performing arts have been proven to exercise the brain in a way that defines us as a species.

What is this art instinct and how does creativity happen in the human brain? How can we as engineers and scientists foster this creativity in ourselves?   It does not happen by accident. We must exercise these parts of the brain to have it function on the highest level.

I think we all agree that art was considered a fun thing when we were kids.  How come many of us lose this when we become adults? So grab a paintbrush and a canvas, carve some clay, blow some glass, participate in a play or take some music lessons. Your creativity will be enhanced and you will provide benefits to society through your creativity.

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