With senior design projects, and the final core classes needed to graduate (WHOOHOOO!!!) it’s very simple to get caught up in the same rut of only thinking how we’ve been taught to do for the past four years. As an engineer, we always have to think analytically, focusing on math, numbers and equations that always have a concrete answer. And even though you do get a large amount of creative freedom with the design of your senior design project, there is still no sort of artistic outlet one can really indulge in. That’s why I decided to add a splash of creativity to my semester by taking two courses which force me to step outside of my analytical comfort zone and into the creative realm: Monsters in Fiction, taught by Professor Tenga, and Vocal lessons, taught by Professor Knappenberger.
While preparing to register for my last semester in my undergraduate career, I needed a free elective credit requirement to fulfill. I decided to go for a class that would not only catch my interest, but also not be as time-consuming or as demanding as a core course in order to dedicate my focus more onto my senior design project. That’s when I came across a humanities course which I thought would be pretty cool: Monsters in Fiction. Who wouldn’t want to take a class to talk about zombies, vampires and demonic children? Not to mention that I had heard nothing but great opinions about Professor Tenga from other students. I decided to take the plunge.
So far, this class has been way cooler than I expected. Not only do I get to explore different works of fiction about really cool topics like zombies and vampires, but we also learn about the cultural and historical relations that monsters have to society and how these fears and stories came to be in the first place. It certainly gives you a new perspective on a decaying zombie or a blood-sucking vampire. So far, my favorite work that we have read in class has been The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell. It’s an awesome post-apocalyptic story that follows 15-year-old bad-a**, Temple. I really liked this book in particular because of the strong, Ghurka-knife wielding female character that has no problem splitting a zombie’s skull in half and doesn’t need any one else for survival.
Apart from zombies, possessed houses, and more monstrous fiction, I wanted to do something that would allow me to keep singing and performing without committing to a full-time theatrical production this semester. As much as I wanted to be a part of the FIT’s College Players spring production this year, I knew my time should and would be committed to my senior design project, not midnight choreography. So instead, I signed up for a half-credit course, vocal lessons with Professor Knappenberger.
These lessons are a part of Florida Tech’s Music program, and are taught with various professors that have studied singing as a career. I chose to take my lessons with Professor K since he had work with our musical’s cast of Company last semester. Having never taken choir or any sort of vocal lesson previously, I was a bit skeptical and nervous as to how it would work out. It turns out that there is a bunch more involved with singing properly than I previously thought, but it gives me such a nice break from all the CAD modeling and FEA analysis I have to do for my project. I’m certainly learning a whole bunch, and I’m really excited for the small recital we have coming up in April.
So no matter what you’re studying, I recommend not getting stuck in a rut. Take a couple of classes outside of your area of study and outside of your comfort zone. You might be surprised and realize you’re really interested in a certain topic you might not have thought you liked before. It is also a fantastic relief from stress. Until next time, panthers!