Creativity in Science and Engineering

Contributed by Erin Winick

The engineering and science fields are often portrayed as extremely left brain, highly logical, and precise. As someone who walks much closer to the center line between the left brain and artsy right brain, I was a little hesitant entering the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields in college. As a kid I binge watched Bill Nye Erin with LEGO Towerand Mythbusters (before binge watching was even a term), built LEGO towers, and went to summer science camps at the local science museum. Conversely, I also sewed all of my own Halloween costumes, loved photography, and served as editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. I was anxious that I would lose my creative outlets when I was surrounded by only math and physics classes and would have very little free-time to pursue other passions.

However, over my past four years in college I made an important discovery for myself. The engineering and science fields can be intensely creative. At its core engineering is a field of problem solving. Creativity within engineering can lead to huge innovations and world altering ideas. Engineers and scientists that are willing to think outside the box and approach problems from a different perspective are greatly needed and appreciated, not suppressed.

Creativeness in STEM is not constantly recognized in society, but just dive beneath the surface level and STEM easily turns into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). People that love art and creativity are highly valued in the STEM fields because not every person in the field wants to deal with these aspects of the work. The ability to explain your discoveries and work to a general audience is crucial in getting public support and grants for your research and work. In order to get the technically advanced iPhones and Teslas to sell, an artistic eye had to create their sleek futuristic look. Many engineers and scientists are passionate about the work they do and only want to work on the highly technical side of the job. Therefore, those with a creative artistic side are needed.

Within the fields of science, there is an entire world of SciArt and science communication out there to explore. SciArt shows off all of the most beautiful parts of our world through the lens of science. Ranging from Etsy store Artlogica that creates paintings, collages, and silk scarves inspired by science to Shenova which designs and makes custom dresses with patterns inspired by science, SciArt is wide ranging. Science writing is also an amazing creative outlet option for scientists to share through blogging or creating articles on what they are studying, learning, or observing in the world.

Throughout my time searching through these new aspects of scientific study I have seen that by embracing my love of creativity, art, and STEM I am able to set myself apart from the rest of the pack and make a difference. In my 4th year as a mechanical engineering major at the University of Florida I started my own SciArt based company, Sci Chic. In Sci Chic we use 3D printing to create science and engineering inspired jewelry and accessories, along with educational resources helping to spread science literacy. I am able to use my knowledge and training in 3D printing, 3D modeling, and science and engineering topics to spark conversations about science. On top of that, I have been able to continue my love of writing through writing about science and engineering topics. I have been able to combine my passions for making, fashion, science, engineering, art, and 3D printing to help make a difference. In less than a year I have sold hundreds of pieces of jewelry, expanded Sci Chic’s designs to over 30 pieces covering different areas of science and been to events around the country talking about 3D printing and science with amazing feedback from everyone to little kids and their parents to college professors.

Frontline Necklace     Erin     Safety Glasses necklace

I never would have imagined how entering STEM would have shaped my life. I have enjoyed learning about all the technical topics in my engineering classes, but love that my artsy and creative side hasn’t had to disappear in favor of this. If anything I have challenged myself and my abilities in a new area. Whether you are using creativity directly in engineering to find a new way to solve a problem or working to promote and spread science in society through art, there is an important place for creativity in the STEM fields that will only grow in the coming years. I can’t wait to continue down my path in STEM and see the next ingenious idea or person that is going to shape our society.

Erin Winick is a 5th year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Florida (UF) and CEO of Sci Chic. She was inspired to create Sci Chic while serving as the President of UF's Society of Women Engineers. Looking for new ways to show how creative and beautiful engineering can be, Erin combined her sewing machine and Computer Aided Design Software to conceptualize Sci Chic.