Congratulations to the winner of the Living ArtsEngine 2020-2021 Design Contest, Emily Yi!
Looking Forward To A New Semester
Living ArtsEngine is excited to welcome its new class of students for the 2020-2021 academic year. We are looking forward to a productive semester, getting to know each other exploring creative work across disciplines.
This year presents many challenges ahead; however, we have already begun to find creative ways to socialize and participate in creative workshops, both online and in-person, while
following health and safety guidelines.
These newsletters will keep our supporters informed about the unique work our Living ArtsEngine students are involved in and profile students from our current class as well as alumni.
Though this semester will look very different from ones past, we look forward to continuing to find ways to safely communicate and collaborate across disciplines.
Our Community Student Leaders
Art and Design - '22
Hello Friends! My name is Shalin Berman and I am one of the RAs in Living Arts Engine this year. This is super exciting considering this is my third year with the program; I was a mentee, then a mentor, and now I'm an RA! I am studying Art and Design at Stamps, with a concentration in graphic design. My goal is to combine my art and design skills with my passions for political science and social justice.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about being part of the Living ArtsEngine community this year?
I am looking forward to getting to know the incoming members and being a role model for them; the mentors and RAs who came before me served as role models I could look up to, and were always there for me. I want to be that person for the next generation of LAE students.
Engineering - '22
My name is Robert Clark, and I am a mechanical engineering major from Niles, Michigan. I was a 2019–2020 Living ArtsEngine Peer Mentor, and I am so excited to be one of the RAs for the 2020–2021 academic year. Outside of Living ArtsEngine, I am a project manager for MedLaunch, a biodesign team, and a brother of Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity. When I’m not studying, you can usually find me working on a sewing project or geeking out about horror movies, contemporary musical theatre, and choral performance.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about being part of the Living ArtsEngine community this year?
I am looking forward to hosting creative workshops. Shalin and I have planned a workshop about vector graphics and 3D modeling, and I am so excited to see what our community is able to create.
Engineering - '22
Hello all! My name is Erin, I’m from Niles, Michigan, and I’m one of the peer mentor coordinators for this year along! I’m a junior studying environmental engineering with a minor in mathematics. Outside of engineering, I enjoy being in nature, playing the recorder, petting cats, and painting memes! I love the people in the community and being able to help and be a resource available to them. If you ever see me feel free to say hi!
Music/Web Design - '22
Heyo! My name's John and I'm one of the two peer mentor coordinators this year! A little bit about me: I'm a crazy man who's trying to finish my music degree in trombone while starting and then finishing a UX degree in two years! I'm from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I like to wear collared shirts and eat sweet potatoes. I love meeting new people and being a positive force for change in our wonderful community here; I especially love pretending to be an academic advisor and linking people up with the resources that allow them to be their best selves!
Engineering/Art and Design - '23
Hi there! My name is Taylor, and I'm a sophomore at UM pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Art and Design. I had a great time as a first-year student in the community last year, I'm really looking forward to contributing to Living ArtsEngine in my new role as office assistant. I have way too many hobbies and interests to name, but I especially enjoy making art, playing video games, and spending time with my friends.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being part of Living ArtsEngine?
I love the sense of community that I found as a student last year; I’ve made so many friends here that now feel like family. I’m also very excited about the role that I’ve grown into, as I now get to work alongside many of these close friends I've made and share my love of Living ArtsEngine with others!
Want to learn more about our Peer Mentors? Check out their profiles on our website!
Here's What's Been Happening In Living ArtsEngine...
After settling into the residence halls, Living ArtsEngine students began their journey of creative exploration right away. Our first group project together involved designing and building musical instruments. Working in interdisciplinary teams with their peer mentors, this activity provided an excellent opportunity for our students to engage in hands-on creative work which is a major component of our program.
Our students were pushed to think outside the box, hot only with the project, but also navigating the challenges of working in a hybrid learning environment. Despite these
challenges, our students rose to the occasion, working hard and producing unique designs for their instruments.
In this workshop, co-taught by peer mentors Ray and Ted, students learned about how to use motors, servos, LEDs, and LCD displays with an Arduino microcontroller. They used a program called TinkerCad to simulate Arduino parts and learned the basics of Arduino coding to control those parts.
On Saturday September 26th , Art&Design lecturer and Living ArtsEngine Alumni Sarah Eskandari presented a gaming workshop using the "Unreal Engine". This introductory workshop introduced out students to the game development pipeline through Unreal Engine. They learned what a game engine can offer to create stunning, interactive applications and familiarized themselves with the interface and resources available when building a simple level.
On Saturday, September 26, Living Arts Alum Emily Considine hosted a virtual workshop on creating Exsiccatae, displays of dried plant material. While normally Exsiccatae are used to document and preserve plant samples, this creative workshop taught students how to make geometric dried plant arrangements with materials they can gather at home, wherever they are in the world.
Community Member Interviews
Peer Mentor Interview: Lauren Strawn
Q: What made you decide to be a Peer Mentor?
Last year my Peer Mentor was a major part in my feeling welcomed into the university. She was someone I could go to for advice or to just to spend time with when I needed to get away from my work for a minute. She worked so hard to bring our community together, and I wanted to be able to provide that same support for someone else.
Q: How has Living ArtsEngine helped you grow as a creator?
Before I joined Living ArtsEngine my art practice was very isolated from any sort of community or collaborative process. LAE forced me to consider how to work with others to enhance the creative work that I produce. Not only was I able to begin incorporating feedback from different perspectives outside of my own, but I'm now able to participate in multidisciplinary projects. I no longer feel limited to a singular discipline, because I have a community that works across virtually all media and modalities of creativity.
Q: What kind of creative projects do you like to do?
I tend to focus my energy on projects that have some sort of community impact, usually through illustration. This might be through designing and producing pinback buttons to distribute to our community to enhance a feeling of membership, or through putting up posters encouraging our residents to give thanks to someone who has had an impact on them through accessible greeting cards. I focus on art that is accessible and community building in nature.
Student Interview: Terry Li
Q: What has your experience in Living ArtsEngine been like so far?
Living ArtsEngine has been pretty great so far. On the day I moved in I talked to the person who lives across the hall; he’s thinking about majoring in electrical engineering but he also really likes music, and that’s sort of similar to me. Meeting many people with a wide variety of interests has also been a really great
experience because they bring so many different perspectives to the table, and whenever I’m talking to them I’m always learning something new.
Q: What made you originally decide to join Living ArtsEngine?
When I was looking at the different learning communities, what really drew my eye to Living ArtsEngine was their dedication towards creativity. I believe in realizing my dreams and working towards them, and sometimes you have to approach them in unique and new ways. By being in this community and being around so many like-minded people, I feel like I’m more motivated to look at my problems and aspirations in creative and different ways.
Q: Has there been anything surprising to you about being in Living ArtsEngine?
The level of support they’ve shown me has been really surprising. If you had told me that they would be even remotely interested in building model airplanes, I wouldn’t have believed it, but coming here and speaking to Mark about it made me feel like I can dream big and actually have the resources to achieve my dreams. It’s just really amazing how much support I’m getting with my creative projects.
Q: What kinds of things do you like to do outside of the community?
Aside from Living ArtsEngine, I’m also part of the Solar Car project team. After doing Science Olympiad in high school, I knew I wanted to join some sort of project team, because one of my firm beliefs is that theory is nothing without practice. In addition to Living ArtsEngine, I feel like the Solar Car Team is another avenue to actually make things happen. I also feel like it’s going to give me skills that are helpful for the future, like working collaboratively in a team on the same project. It’s very difficult and takes a lot of time, but I ultimately think it’s going to be rewarding.
Q: Is there anything else you wanted to share about your experience in Living ArtsEngine?
I’m really thankful that I have the chance to be a part of this community because it’s just so many different people and so many unique perspectives and I’m all about that kind of stuff. Being around people who are studying so many different disciplines really encourages me to approach my problems from multiple perspectives.
Q: What have you been involved in since you left Living Arts?
There's actually quite a bit that has fallen into place for me since my sophomore year; one of the most notable things was that I was able to study abroad in the spring of 2019 for six weeks. Afterward, I came back and put some thought into what I really want to be doing, and I decided to declare a third major in Spanish. Around the same time, I was able to
join a research lab on Spanish Sociophonetics and Second Language Acquisition. I've been there since last summer, and now I’m working on an honors thesis based on the work that I was doing.
Related to my music major, I did my senior recital in a pre-recorded virtual version this past summer. Right now, I'm working on that thesis and I'm in the process of applying for grad programs because I'd like to continue studying linguistics, and a Fulbright just so that I have some options; in that one, I'd be working as an English teaching assistant in Spain.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
I'm graduating this December, and I have kind of tentative plans for
the year after that; as far as I know, I'll continue to work in the lab that I've been working in. I'll probably be working towards making my thesis into something I could potentially publish, and then in fall I'll either be starting grad school or going back to Spain to work as an English teaching assistant. It all depends on which applications work out and what's possible in the world at that time. Either way, eventually I would like to get a Ph.D. in linguistics, and in general, just keep working with Spanish and traveling as much as I can.
Q: Why did you first decide to join the LAE program and then return for a second year?
When I first came here, I didn't really know what role music and the arts were going to play in my education, but I wanted to make sure that I had a place to explore those things, even if it wasn't directly in my studies. I also kind of had it in mind that I tend to get along with people who are interested in the arts in some form. So, I wanted to have a community where I can find people like that, and I guess that was kind of my mindset going in. I decided to stay because it turns out I liked the living environment. I had a couple of close friends who were going to stick around, and I also wanted to kind of have a bit of a leadership position and kind of feel that out and see what it was like.
How were you impacted by the program? Any useful takeaways?
I haven't really experienced anything like our monthly workshops in the rest of my time at Michigan; I remember those moments being times where I really had to put myself out of my comfort zone and be open to the possibilities. In particular, I remember the improv dance workshop, because I really was just like, 'wow, this is different and like me and all my friends and some people that don't even know are just like moving our bodies in ways that I would not have thought', and I associate living arts with experiences like that a lot. And also, just like being in the lounge, and just sitting there and seeing everyone engaging in all different creative activities in the evenings.
Q: What would you say to a prospective student who may be considering the program?
I would probably say it's a great place to be if you like trying new things and you want to be exposed to different disciplines. Also that if you join, you shouldn't be afraid to reach out to people and be present in community spaces; I realized after a while that that was sort of something I had to do to really become more of a part of the community, and I think that's how people make a lot of friendships.