Art sparks creative aspects for engineering students
Engineering is considered by some to be a rigid academic discipline, but problem-solving requires creativity. Enter Elif Akcali, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, who expanded the mindsets of her students this past semester with two major projects aimed at introducing them to the world of artistic expression. "Creativity and problem solving are defining characteristics that make us human," said , Akcali, who served as Creative Scholar-in-Residence at the School of Theatre and Dance. "Everyone is an artist and an engineer." Akcali asked the entire freshmen and transfer engineering class of 1,609 students to write their "grand dream" on a strip of paper. She then folded an origami crane for each student and attached his or her dream to it. She called the project, "Somnium Grusi," which means "Crane's Dream" in Latin. In Greek mythology and Anatolian folk tales and songs, cranes are symbols of grace, strength, longevity and loyalty. As a visual artist, Akcali uses the origami crane as her medium for storytelling. "Origami helps me create in a very simple, honest and a straightforward way," she said. "A square sheet of paper becomes this 3D object that looks like a bird. It is like magic!"