By Allison Uhl
Students and faculty gathered in Education Building Room 212 on April 2 at 12:30 p.m. to attend the Annual Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Lecture Series, “Pathways for Disciplinary Integration in Higher Education.”
Youngmoo Kim of Drexel University led the lecture, which was funded by the Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Chair in Faculty-Student Engagement Endowment Fund. The fund recognizes and supports faculty who have a distinguished record of faculty-student collaborative scholarship and teaching, and are examples of the teacher-scholar model. Created by the Office of Academic Affairs, a teacher-scholar is someone who “continues to grow as a disciplinary expert, pursuing a productive program of scholarly research or creative endeavor.”
Kim is the founding director of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies center, as well as a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Drexel. He was named “Scientist of the Year” by the 2012 Philadelphia Greek Awards and was a recipient of Drexel’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in the same year.
He founded the ExCITe center because he felt that STEM primarily focused on finding solutions to problems in an optimal way—one that will produce the “right” answer. But the best way to find that answer is through art and design. Often, when finding solutions to problems, learning how to think outside the box and use other methods to find the solution must be implemented.
“Often, in collaboration with others, it is finding out what for us means right,” Kim said. “If we can do those things,and find what means ‘right,’ great things can happen as a result.”
He felt that that was the theme of building the ExCITe center – students can work with one another to create projects using more out-of-the-box thinking.
Other goals he had for the center were transdisciplinary research and discovery connecting technology and communities.
He spoke about his many research groups with which he is involved, including his own, the Music and Entertainment Technology Laboratory, which focuses on the machine understanding of audio of music information retrieval.
Kim is actively involved in research at the MET-lab, which includes human machine interfaces and robotics for expressive interaction, analysis-synthesis of sound and K-12 outreach for engineering, science and mathematics education.
The audience was actively engaged in his presentation and was made aware of the impact science, technology, engineering and mathematics have on the student experience. The subject of Kim’s presentation was about STEAM, which, in addition to STEM, includes arts and design. He described STEAM as integrated arts and design, alongside STEM.
Kim hopes that in the near future, arts and design can be incorporated into daily aspects of life, and that people will not be afraid to look at things in ways that are not common. He emphasized how it is important to find solutions in every way possible and be innovators of the future problems to come.
“It’s a process of experience, and understanding how to deal with those pieces when there is no clear-cut right answer,” Kim said. “It’s a process of exploring. And where do you gain that experience? I think the best way is through participation in arts and design. For there is no one right way to perform things perfectly.”
Kim emphasized throughout his presentation how important it is that arts and design are integrated into larger parts of the STEM programs at different colleges and universities. He believes that STEAM will provide greater possibilities for better learning, outcomes and career preparedness.
Danny Beer, a junior computer science major with a minor in music, attended the lecture and enjoyed that he was able to learn about the potential opportunities that this gives students with interests such as his in the arts and in technology.
“This lecture gave me insight into how I can combine my two passions (music and technology) into a career after graduation,” said Beer. “I hope that Dr. Kim’s message resonates with STEM faculty and other STEM students. Hopefully in the future, we can fully integrate the arts with technology.”