Iowa State University civil engineering senior Ryan Francois, as well as construction engineering seniors Jace Christensen and Michael Donlin, attended the a2ru Emerging Creatives Student Conference hosted by Stanford University.
About 110 students from 30 U.S. research universities were selected to attend. Twelve Iowa State students attended with backgrounds in human sciences, design and engineering. The event’s goal was to allow interdisciplinary student collaboration with an interest in crossing creative boundaries.
Francois, Christensen and Donlin attended guest lectures, viewed seminars and participated in various interdisciplinary events at the three day conference, which took place January 30 through February 1st.
When asked what the most challenging part of the conference was, Francois replied, “It was challenging working with other majors and backgrounds, because each major had its own method of approaching a problem much differently than ours as engineers.”
They also participated in various team building exercises. Christensen participated in a group wallet building activity. He and teammates looked at current wallet designs then redesigned them with their own functions in mind. “It opened my eyes to the idea that as engineers, we are very concerned with problem solving, but we tend to forget about finding the problem in the first place. Sometimes one needs to go against the grain to make things better,” Christensen said.
Donlin said that his favorite experience was the “d. school.” He explained that it was not an actual school but “simply a place that focused on the collaboration of ideas.” One could work with people from all backgrounds with the common goal of rapid prototyping of ideas. Donlin said that while working in this creative environment, “working with the right people can sometimes allow the problem to solve itself.”
The three engineering seniors said that the experience was “a wonderful chance to network and engage in collaborative projects with students from different disciplines who are trying to make the world a better place.”
Francois added that collaboration with other majors “allows for communication breakdown to occur less often over various departmental disciplines.”
Donlin adds that “sometimes you only see what you are looking at, not what you are looking for – collaboration can help that problem.”
Photograph (left to right): Construction engineering senior Jace Christensen, civil engineering senior Ryan Francois, and construction engineering senior Michael Donlin think “outside the box” at the 2014 Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities Emerging Creatives Student Conference.