Finding creative outlets at an engineering school

Photo courtesy of Sara Schmitt

In a school dominated by calculus, lab write-ups and computer code, finding a creative outlet can often be difficult. Students who had access to art classes, instruments and dance in high school can suddenly find themselves at a loss as to how to create things. In addition, the infamous Tech workload makes finding time for hobbies like music or sculpting extremely difficult. Oftentimes these former passions fall by the wayside as homework piles up and just getting enough sleep becomes a challenge.

Scientific studies show, however, that creating art (whether visual, auditory or any other kind) can lead to drastically better mental health. It can promote a sense of positivity, increase confidence due to accomplishment, foster healthy relationships, and stimulate deeper engagement. On an unscientific level, creating things just feels good, which is one of the reasons why children are drawn
to coloring so early, and why many care facilities for the elderly have frequent opportunities for making art.

If art is so important, how can students wrapped up in the day-to-day struggle of just staying afloat ensure that they are letting out enough of their creative juices? Tech has several opportunities. If painting or sculpting is one’s passion, Paper & Clay is located on the third floor of the student center, roughly directly above the salad bar at the food court, and provides easy access to materials.

The CRC offers dance classes for those students who may be interested in dancing, and there are many different styles of dance team that are listed on OrgSync (Tech’s platform for matching with the perfect club or clubs). Joining one of these provides not only a creative outlet, but also much-needed exercise that can release hormones that lead to greater productivity and higher levels of happiness. In a way, taking some time off to join a dance team will improve productivity instead of taking away from it.

Although creating music can be difficult for students not in the band or orchestra, Under the Couch has space for students interested in forming their own group, and there are practice rooms for rent in the Couch building on West campus. The Ferst Center and DramaTech also have practice pianos that are open to the public and only used infrequently. In addition, admirers of music (and arts of all kind) can obtain discounted student tickets at the Ferst Center box office.

For writers or fans of writing, Tech even has a lesser-known poetry club that meets semi-regularly. For more information on guest poets and getting involved, see the poetry corner near the Skiles garden. If prose is more appealing, Tech also has a book club that can be found on OrgSync.

Even more technologically-focused artists can find creative outlet in the Invention Studio, by participating in invention competitions, or by using the major-specific workshops located around campus. Aerospace engineers even have a new studio in Weber for building their latest ideas.

Despite the many opportunities, Tech’s art scene still leaves much to be desired. Practice rooms are scarce and not free for all students, and Paper & Clay is only a small facility not capable of handling heavy traffic. The poetry and book clubs, while present, do not have a large following, despite the many students interested in the literary arts.

On a campus of stressed-out, mentally taxed students, the atmosphere of the arts is sadly lacking. The good news, however, is that starting a club is a fairly simple process with which SGA can assist. So if one’s passion is for saxophones, start a saxophone club. If writing vampire historical fiction seems like the best creative outlet, start a club and call it Bonaparte’s Bloodthirsty Bards.

Whatever that passion may be, finding an outlet is the best way to both maintain one’s mental health and promote a more artistic atmosphere on Tech’s campus.