The Institute - June 2019 - 11

equipment company. The
visionary sound engineer, who
died in 2013, invented the
901 Direct/Reflecting speaker
system, one of the first stereo
loudspeakers to use the space
around a room instead of aiming all the sound directly at the
listener. The 901 remained an
industry standard for 25 years.
Those are "examples of
technology and art blending
together to create experiences that neither could
do on its own," says IEEE
Fellow S.K. Ramesh. He's
director of the AIMS2 program
at California State University,
Northridge. The program
is working to improve the
academic achievement of
Hispanic and low-income students in
engineering and computer science
and helping them pursue a career in
a STEM field. "This coming together
makes the whole much greater than
the sum of its parts.
"There is this holistic approach
of looking at the arts as a vehicle to
inspire and motivate workers to create
something new and different," says
Ramesh, a former IEEE Educational
Activities vice president.
Training more people how to use
both the analytical and the artistic sides
of their brain is behind the STEAM
movement, which encourages education that combines art with science,
technology, engineering, and math.
STEAM can give greater context to
an engineer's work. The key to good
design is a combination of empathy and knowledge of the arts and
humanities, according to Vivek Wadhwa, an adjunct professor at Carnegie

Mellon University Silicon Valley.
As Steve Jobs said when he unveiled
the iPad2, "It's in Apple's DNA that
technology alone is not enough; it's
technology married with liberal arts,
married with the humanities, that
yields us the result that makes our
heart sing."
Ramesh says having a STEAM
background also increases diversity
of thought and inclusiveness in the
workplace-beyond the traditional categories of diversity, like gender, sexual
orientation, socioeconomic status,
and race.
"Those who have an artistic, musical,
or another creative background see
things from a different perspective,"
he says. "Other employees begin to
appreciate them-which leads coworkers to value each other more. STEAM
brings together people and communities-which can be transformative."

all students, regardless of their gender,
socioeconomic status, or race, according to the eSchool News article.

IEEE is doing its part to help
educators train the next
generation of STEAM workers.
Its TryEngineering program offers
free lesson plans to educators working
with preuniversity students. IEEE
also runs the TryEngineering Summer
Institute, a two-week program that
gives students ages 12 to 17 hands-on
projects in a variety of engineering
fields while they learn what it's
like to live on a college campus.
Projects include designing a rocket,
a 3D-printed car, and a trebuchet.
Ramesh, who visited one of the
camps last year at the University of
California, Riverside, shared how one
student made a small, origami-type
table out of napkins and toothpicks.
"He asked me, 'Do you think this
would be part of engineering?'"
Studies show that STEAM education
Ramesh says. "I was simply blown
improves creativity and innovation.
away because this creative young man
When students encounter a problem
looked at the materials in front of him
or challenge, they are encouraged to
and realized they could be turned into
work through the solution not only
something functional. It was inspiring.
using science and technology but also
"It may sound cliché," Ramesh adds,
leveraging their knowledge of the arts,
"but I truly believe engineering is the
according to an eSchool News article.
renaissance discipline of our century.
They use creativity along with
technical skills as well as out-of-the-box With STEAM, we have the ability to
educate in such a way that we can
thinking and persistence-all traits
companies are looking for in new hires, bring out more creativity and curiosity in students as well as build a more
according to a Fast Company article.
diverse and inclusive society of workBecause STEAM hands-on projects
ers. Anything that we can do to make
incorporate a variety of materials
engineering more meaningful is the
and tools, students learn by practice,
direction we need to go in."
rather than from a lecture. They also
learn at their own pace, using solu-KATHY PRETZ
tions they've devised. This method
This article originally appeared online as "Why
establishes an equal playing field for
Companies Need Engineers With a Creative Bent."


JUN 2019



The Institute - June 2019

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