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Seeking New Perspectives: Engineers Experiencing Design through Creative Arts

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Infusing Engineering with Art (and Vice Versa)

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


David M. Beams P.E. University of Texas - Tyler

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Dr. David Beams first became interested in electrical engineering through a passion for amateur radio in high school. He earned BSEE and MS degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1974 and 1977, respectively, with two years of industrial experience separating the two. He then spent over fourteen additional years in industry before returning to graduate study, receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. In 1997, he became one of the founding faculty of the new School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler. He has published numerous papers on engineering education and has presented several technical papers at national conferences on the subject of wireless power transfer. Dr. Beams holds or shares four patents and is a licensed professional engineer in Wisconsin. His artistic endeavors usually result in a significant waste of both pigments and perfectly-good watercolor paper, and he has just finished a 15-year run as an on-stage performer in an annual local production of The Nutcracker.

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Kyle Gullings University of Texas - Tyler

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Kyle Gullings is a composer of diverse, versatile music for the stage and concert hall. Through intimate chamber, vocal, and stage settings, his music traverses wide-ranging topics such as Sumerian legends, nuclear war, and the American Dream. He has been named a national finalist in composing competitions sponsored by SCI/ASCAP (twice) and the National Opera Association (one of three works selected).

Dr. Gullings is committed to improving the quality and efficiency of undergraduate music theory and composition education through classroom innovation, collaboration, and scholarship. In addition to teaching in the core music theory sequence, he maintains a growing interest in developing, practicing, and sharing efficient assessment methods.

Dr. Gullings has taught at The University of Texas at Tyler since 2011. He lives in Tyler, TX, with his wife Terra and their dog Ollie.

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Catherine Elizabeth Ross Ph.D. University of Texas - Tyler

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PhD. University of Texas at Austin, 1998
Associate Professor of English, University of Texas as Tyler 1998 to the present

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The engineering curriculum of necessity focuses heavily on technical subjects—mathematics, chemisty, physics, and the large body of discipline-specific material. The arts are frequently present only in vestigial form and are regarded as tangential at best to the real engineering curriculum. However, an experience of the creative arts beyond the superficial might reveal that the artist and the engineer are not as different as is usually supposed. The artist and the engineer face similar problems in the process of design. Both seek to create new designs to meet perceived needs. Both work under constraints of time and budget. Both must work within the limits imposed by their experience and knowledge, and both must work within the range of available techniques and methods. Both will make incremental steps, tentative moves, and false starts; both will make mistakes, and both will learn will what works and what does not. And both will discover that there is seldom (if ever) only one “right answer,” but there is usually a spectrum of “good answers,” some better than others. The __________________ is undertaking an experimental project in which engineering students will be allowed to experience the design process afresh from the perspective of the creative arts. Juniors in electrical engineering will work under the mentorship of arts faculty in a chosen medium (studio art, writing, or music) to produce legitimate works of art that will be displayed, performed, or read publicly, and will document how their experiences of design in the arts have informed and shaped their perspectives as engineers. The structure and expectations of this course are described in this paper; results will be described in the subsequent presentation.

Beams, D. M., & Gullings, K., & Ross, C. E. (2016, June), Seeking New Perspectives: Engineers Experiencing Design through Creative Arts Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26154

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