Auburn’s first ‘Engineering as Art’ exhibit looks to showcase STEM’s creative side

By Jeremy Henderson

Published: Apr 30, 2019 2:00:00 PM

An intricate half-tone image of Auburn’s iconic Samford Hall rendered in a single continuous line produced by Daniel Silva and Alexander Vinel, assistant professors in industrial and systems engineering. The computational tools used to create the image are both widely used operation research algorithms with applications in numerous fields of engineering and science. An intricate half-tone image of Auburn’s iconic Samford Hall rendered in a single continuous line produced by Daniel Silva and Alexander Vinel, assistant professors in industrial and systems engineering. The computational tools used to create the image are both widely used operation research algorithms with applications in numerous fields of engineering and science.

For the next two weeks, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will be giving Auburn's Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art a run for it its money.

The brainchild of Edmon Perkins, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, a multimedia exhibit titled “Engineering as Art” is being housed in the second-floor foyer of the newly renovated Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory until Sunday, May 12.

Perkins, along with fellow organizers and College of Engineering faculty members Vinamra Agrawal, Brendan Higgins, Tae-Sik Oh, Marta Miletić, Bo Liu, Jason Clark, Daniel Silva, Aleksandr Vinel and Pengyu Chen, will host an open house event for the show Friday, May 3, from 5-8 p.m.

"Engineering is a creative endeavor, but we often do not emphasize this creative aspect," said Perkins, a recent recipient of the Office of Naval Research’s Young Investigator Award. "Recently, there have been a number of ‘science as art’ initiatives that try to include the arts in STEM. While science, technology, engineering and mathematics are all intricately entwined, this particular art show is meant to highlight engineering."

Pieces in the exhibit include an intricate algorithm-derived image of Auburn’s iconic Samford Hall rendered in a single continuous line, a video of an aluminum foil ball undergoing levitation melting, and a 3-D printed, macro-scale reproduction of two milliseconds worth of the Temptations’ 1976 track “Glasshouse.”

"I have been interested in record grooves for a while because I learned that they are actually recording information at a very small scale—nanoscale before it was a word," said Robert Jackson, professor of mechanical engineering, who produced “Musical Nano Surfaces” along with Perkins. "Edmon was putting together the art show and I thought it would be a cool way to show people what a record groove really looks like. Edmon had a 3-D printer and helped setting up the model."

Other microscopic masterpieces included in the exhibit are two critically-acclaimed works by materials engineering doctoral student Armin VahidMohammadi. Both “Nano Nemo on the Water” and “Nano Lord Voldemort” have placed first at the Materials Research Society’s highly competitive Science as Art competition.

“I’m really grateful to Associate Deans Steve Duke and Steve Taylor for their help in securing a venue for the exhibit,” Perkins said. “The expectation is that ‘Engineering as Art’ will be an annual showcase held in the spring semester. Moving forward, there is a plan to add an art competition, a website describing the pieces and a long-term exhibition of key artwork."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson, jeremyhenderson@auburn.edu, 334-844-3591