Adding an “A” to STEM Education

May 21st, 2012

Category: News

This blog post is an extended letter to the editor that was published in The News Journal. Dori Jacobson, our Senior Vice President, is a member of the Board of Overseers of Delaware College of Art and Design.

In his memoir, Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak said, “Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me … they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists.”

His comment hit home May 13 when 88 students graduated from the Delaware College of Art and Design. The ceremony was traditional in many ways: a bag piper; caps, gowns and academic regalia; and quotes from Dickens, Malcolm X, and Winnie the Pooh.

Yet, as I sat on the stage of the Grand with other governing members, my first thought was that the students should have been seated where we were, in the spotlight where parents and friends could revel in their success.

These students blew me away. I expect they will make quite a dent in the world of the arts and sciences in the years to come. Sciences? Yes. While DCAD is solidly focused on the arts –illustration, photography, fine arts, graphics, and animation –the students’ exhibition blended a remarkable set of skills: an understanding of perspective, sophisticated computer programming, architectural detailing, simple solutions to complex problems, and complex renderings of simple subjects. Science, technology, engineering and math were on display, yet combined and presented in the framework of the arts.

When business leaders and policymakers speak of the importance of STEM, many think of the intellectual needs of DuPont, AstraZeneca, W. L. Gore, and CAI. Let us not forget the arts—STEAM, as they say. It’s clearly one route to the innovation and creativity that will drive so much of our economic future.

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Dori Jacobson