Letters to the Editor
Job well done
I was moved to write after reading the Winter 2005 issue. I found the diversity of human perspectives on technology to be very inspiring. I applaud the breadth of the arts covered by your magazine. Dean Kamen (p. 4) is a shining example of a caring engineer who does not see technology as an end in itself. The article on the Little Theatre brought back many fine memories of performances in Alden Hall, from theatre to entertainment to provoking discussion. I still think of Lens and Lights movie nights, when I hear the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” I remember speeches by Isaac Asimov and Tracy Kidder (Soul of a New Machine), which were influential in my education. I recall Asimov saying something to the effect that science fiction predicted the technology of television, and also predicted the moon landing, but did not predict our participating in the latter, using the former. The fact that I approach engineering with a people perspective is something so fundamental to my approach now that I don’t often reflect credit on the WPI Plan, which planted the seed.
The piece on the Well-Rounded Technologist (p. 19) particularly hit home, since I find I draw from the insights gained in Prof. Schachterle’s (pictured p. 32) Science and Technology Literature course (circa 1982). Over the years I have returned frequently to the themes raised in those discussions. In fact, I have recently just completed my third reading of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Being taught from this profound book was worth the price of admission; I turn to it again and again for new inspiration.
I look forward to reading future Transformations articles highlighting the individuals who shape our relationship with technology. Your magazine reminds me of the reason I am an engineer, and rekindles my appreciation for the WPI institution that shaped my education.
Our technological culture
I was glad to read about Lance Schachterle’s work with the WPI Studies in Science, Technology, and Culture series. I think this is even more important today than when I was at WPI, given the increasing pervasiveness of technology in our culture. It’s hard to remember back to the early ’80s when there were no cell phones, Internet, laptops, or PDAs.
Linking science and humanities
Congratulations to WPI on the Winter 2005 issue of Transformations. It’s a fine piece, so full of inspirational stories and connections between the humanities and sciences. I keep sharing it with as many people as I can, particularly with those teachers in the Worcester Public Schools’ large comprehensive high schools as they conceptualize and develop small theme-based schools within each high school. These Small Learning Communities have themes including business, engineering, visual and performing arts, and health and science, all of which offer rich humanities-science linkages.
Continually inspired by humanities
Thank you so much for spending an entire issue addressing an aspect of WPI that most people wouldn’t consider being anything more than a requirement. At WPI, the strong technological culture was met with a fervent love of more right-brained pursuits. Looking back at my own experiences and class work, I remember most vividly my humanities classes. Ten years after graduating, I still correspond with Susan Vick, professor of drama/theatre. She was an inspiration while I was a student, and continues to be a muse of sorts in my life now. She supported me a few years ago as I pursued my love of improvisational acting. She motivated me to use my improv skills to write my first real play that was later performed at the New Voices festival that year. Every year since, she is on my mind as the January deadline approaches. New Voices gets my creative juices flowing in an area that terrifies me; occasionally I even submit something. And all because she simply exists as the wonderful person she is. So, thank you for spending time to talk about Susan and the others who keep us using both sides of our brains. It’s the first time I’ve read Transformations cover to cover.