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Light And The Arts: A Class For Engineers

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Integrating H&SS in Engineering I

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.897.1 - 11.897.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Arthur Snider University of South Florida

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Light and the Arts: A Class for Engineers


An exposure to the arts is an essential part of every undergraduate's curriculum, but we feel that the course offerings adopted by most universities to acquaint their engineering students with the fine arts fail to meet their objective. Herein we describe a different type of fine arts course for engineering students which approaches the subject matter through an avenue that they can see as valuable and empowering. The key objectives of the course are to approach the subject of fine art from a perspective where technology-oriented students would have an advantage, rather than a handicap; to exploit the experience so as to reinforce some aspect of engineering science by reviewing it in a new context; and to place the engineering students in an environment composed mostly of others in the same discipline. Background

Although many engineering students would argue otherwise, an exposure to the arts is an essential part of every undergraduate's curriculum. This is underscored by its de facto inclusion, in some form, in the required "distributional elective" hours imposed by virtually every degree program in the United States. Educators recognize that many young people who select technology as a career objective at an early age tend to nurture a technological perspective in all they do, and thus neglect to develop their artistic side.

The unpopularity of the university's attempts to compensate for this derives, we propose, from the ways in which they are implemented. In most institutions the technologist's introduction to fine art takes one of two formats: a first course in an intended sequence, or a survey course for nonmajors.

The Introductory Course of a Sequence for Arts Majors

Engineering students typically shun this type of course because, upon being injected into a environment studded with many classmates who possess a gift for drawing and a heritage of art appreciation/experience/knowledge, some of whom are themselves budding artists, the engineer feels (and is) handicapped. He/she fears that the diversity acquired will come at the cost of hurting his/her grade point average.

The instructor can assuage this somewhat by using an "A for effort" grading policy, as is done in physical education classes to avoid biasing grades for the athletically gifted. But this is less than satisfactory. Who among us feels any sense of pride in his A in "Basketball 101" when he can't make the school team?

Snider, A. (2006, June), Light And The Arts: A Class For Engineers Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--52

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