Why scientists + engineers can’t discard the arts

The National Math and Science Initiative is a non-profit, backed by Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Dell Corporation, and Boeing, that encourages the advancement in primary and secondary STEM education programs.  At the collegiate level, the Intel Corporation Stay With It Campaign encourages first and second year undergraduate engineering and science majors to stay enrolled in their degree programs.

This is important, because the world needs problem solvers of all kinds.  Economic crises, the environment and natural resources, energy, medicine, and warfare are all world issues that need problem solvers, so to increase the volume of skilled workers is vital for the future of the world.

But we don’t need humanistic robots.  We can’t just only focus on analytical and quantitative subjects because that’s only half of the solution.  Even in science, there is quantitative and qualitative data.  In terms of problem solving, I refer to the quantitative data as the numerical outcomes and data, and the qualitative data is psychological and sociological reactions.

One of my closest friends once told my that, in some cases, arts classes provide more of a challenge than science because you can’t get a tutor for an art project.  You can ask someone how to solve a heat transfer problem, but you can’t ask someone to paint a landscape for you.  In my opinion, the thinking style in art is important for engineers because it encourages genuine inspiration and a pursuing a totally new idea.  I think engineers can build off of this because they can apply this to ideas an concepts we already know about, and perhaps build upon those.  This shows real promise in scientific + engineering research, where the researcher must devise a totally new idea based on previous knowledge.

Ultimately, the style of thinking that artists use can benefit scientists + engineers– it requires genuine creativity, and to move society towards solving problems we don’t even realize are problems yet.



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