Asee peer logo

Convergence – an Engineering and Arts Education Project that Brings Together Faculty and Students of Different Disciplines and Nationalities

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference


Boulder, Colorado

Publication Date

March 25, 2018

Start Date

March 25, 2018

End Date

March 27, 2018

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Bridget Benson California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

visit author page

Bridget Benson received a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obipso in 2005, a Master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2007 and a PhD degree in the Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California San Diego in 2010. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obipso. Her research interests span engineering education, embedded systems, and ecological monitoring.

visit author page


Matt Jamison Burnett State University of New York at Canton

visit author page

Matt Burnett is a native of the Adirondack Mountains of Northern NY state. Working in paint, video and environmental installation, Burnett’s work explores the history, paradoxes and environmental dilemmas of nature/culture relationships.

Burnett graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1999 with a BA in Fine Arts, and in 2006 with an MFA in Studio Arts from Maine College of Art. He has since exhibited his work across the United States and Internationally. In addition to painting, he is known for new media environmental installations in the Northeast US, including Mt. Desert Island, Saranac Lake, Portland ME, St. Lawrence University, and Weymouth Nova Scotia.

During 2017 he was a visiting fellow at Munich University of Applied Sciences, where he developed and auditioned his latest project, "Convergence."

In addition to his art career he is a former New York State Assistant Forest Ranger for the Department of Environmental Conservation and is currently a licensed NYS guide in the Adirondacks.

Burnett is currently an Associate Professor in the Graphic and Multimedia Design Program at the State University of New York Canton. In his “Sustainability Lecture Series” at Canton, Burnett combines interdisciplinary teaching with a broad spectrum of speakers from various disciplines. His guests have included scientists, economists, theologists, engineers, and activists. In 2015 Burnett hosted Bill McKibben , the founder of and author of “the end of nature”.

For more information:

visit author page

Download Paper |


Engineering and art were not always completely separate disciplines. Take Leonardo da Vinci (born 1452) for example, who was equally as great an artist as an engineer. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in efforts to bring these disciplines more closely together by adding the Arts back into STEM education – or moving from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to STEAM (science, technology, arts, engineering, and math). Engineering may give you the skills to design and build, but the Arts will give you the ability to design and build for the human condition.

This paper describes a 6 month long engineering and arts education project we’ve named Convergence. The project, made up of a multi-disciplinary and multi-national faculty and student team, involves the design and manufacture of 100 smart LED lighted miniature vessels that float down the river a river with two different colors only to converge to one color further downstream. The convergence of the vessels themselves is symbolic of the convergence of the disciplines and nationalities of the people who designed and built the project and indicative of how combining engineering with the arts can help impart a social message – the need for convergence in a disparate world.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows: We begin by introducing the origin of the project idea and the formation of the multi-disciplinary, multi-national team. We then describe the engineering design of the project and the tests performed to verify its functionality. We conclude by discussing the results of the final demonstration of the project and the perceptions of the project’s impact from those involved in its making.

Benson, B., & Burnett, M. J. (2018, March), Convergence – an Engineering and Arts Education Project that Brings Together Faculty and Students of Different Disciplines and Nationalities Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015