Interdisciplinary arts at Tech serve students

When I first started learning the violin at the age of six, my parents had to cajole, bribe and punish me on a daily basis to make sure I practiced. They even (falsely) told me I could stop lessons once the money ran out; it never did. Though I was not a fan of the tactics my parents used during that time, I am grateful for the lasting impact music has had on my life.

Though I ultimately chose the opportunities afforded by an engineering degree over dedicating my life to being a starving musician, Tech has shown me that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Starting my freshman year in the orchestra here at Tech, I saw that the vast number of musicians were actually engineers by trade.

It wasn’t long after that I came in contact with students just as passionate about more “traditional” art forms as well.

When I initially came to Tech, I was worried that Tech would only be a place of staunch and narrow-minded academics, never straying from the monotony of pure academics. I discovered, however, that the arts do, indeed, have a place at Tech. As President Peterson mentioned in his Institute Address this past week, the Clough Art Crawl showed massive growth this year, displaying much of what Tech has to offer. From live instrumental and spoken word performances to digital media, sculptures and photography, the event demonstrates students’ involvement and commitment to the arts.

“For me, and many people I’ve talked to, the arts provide a way to get away from the stresses of Tech life. “

While this event makes me confident in the continued support of the arts at Tech, I think it important to make sure this part of Tech’s culture remains strong. For me, and many people I’ve talked to, the arts provide a way to get away from the stresses of Tech life. Moreover, as shown by our Music Technology, engineering and music can stand side by side in harmony (pun intended).

Two current projects highlight this combination: Shimon and Shimi. The former, a marimba playing robot, and latter, a sort of digital DJ, both required multidisciplinary input and have been well received in the Tech community. These projects move toward institute goals of interdisciplinary research and serve to strengthen Tech’s reputation as a research institute

I am most familiar with the instrumental music aspect of the arts at Tech, but other big-name student organizations carry on the arts in other arenas. DramaTech involves students in writing, producing and executing productions, many dance organizations teach a myriad of styles to students, and no fewer than 7 vocal groups provide students the opportunity to experience distinct musical styles.

Most importantly, the arts at Tech create a varied and well-rounded set of graduates. This is what I see as Tech’s biggest advantage: the ability of its students to work well in countless and varied situations without missing a beat.