Local art teachers from Pflugerville Independent School District were provided the unique opportunity to learn basic engineering skills from UT aerospace engineering professors this summer. Some may ask the question, “Just how does engineering relate to art?” This is a question that both Professors Robert Bishop and Wallace Fowler helped to clarify in a workshop presented to art teachers who teach various grade levels from elementary through high school.

Teachers learned that art is one of the very basic elements of the engineering design process. Engineers must be able to communicate their ideas to others in a collaborative setting, and many times this is done through sketches and diagrams in the early phases of design. Art continues to be used to show the progress of a design, up until the final prototype comes to life. It can also be seen in a professional setting, when artists use their imaginative skills to depict the unknown, such as an alien landscape. Professor Fowler also provided interesting space facts in his “Exploring Outer Space” presentation, and shared basic design tools that engineers use which included various rulers, protractors and shape templates.

The workshop ended with a hands-on tower building activity. Teachers were given a short time to plan their design, followed by 20 minutes to build a tower with constraints similar to the kind real engineers encounter in the field, such as height, weight bearing ability, and specific materials.

The participants seemed very pleased with the workshop, and collaborated their ideas for future lesson planning. All said the workshop was very beneficial and they look forward to sharing their newly acquired principles and skills with students this coming fall.