I graduated from FS in 1970 and have worked at the US Naval Academy for 36 years as a Modelmaker and Project Support Branch Head. What I really do, is act as a mentor, craftsman, teacher, and resource for Midshipmen Engineering students. Every Engineering student here at Navy is involved in a Capstone Project and our Technical Support facility builds with and for them, all manner of stuff – from satellites that are presently in space to World Record holding human powered Submarines, Towing Tank models, Wind Tunnel models, Robotic devices that roll, fly and float and who knows what that will walk in the door tomorrow! We have a Composites/Wood shop, Machine shop, Sheet Metal/ Weld shop and 3-D printing shop, all using some of the latest technology in CNC manufacturing using both traditional and digital tools.
I have some pretty firm opinions on the real value of hands on, creative Engineering. As a Fine Arts major in College who has found a place in the Engineering world, I have a unique perspective on how the Arts and values of form, perspective, and balance can merge with fundamental Engineering. My personal journey went from Friends, to a Fine Arts Degree from the College of Wooster (Drawing and Printmaking) to a very demanding Apprenticeship in an Industrial setting as a Patternmaker (making precision patterns and molds for non ferrous castings and specializing on large scale Towing Tank models – as large as 25′ long, to a long career as a craftsman/teacher, in an Educational/ Military environment.
So…I was very pleased to see that Friends School has recognized the value of creating- in a hands on fashion, for those students who find that outlet satisfying. It has been sadly lacking and unrecognized for a long time as an educational experience and I see every day here at the USNA, how much the students (especially Engineers) enjoy and profit from building things.
Kids today seem to crave the experience of making something once they realize that it is important and doesn’t condemn them to “trade school”. Linking it to it’s natural ally with the Arts makes it even more valuable. The spark of creation where you go to sleep thinking of what you made, mentally constructing the next steps and the rush to get back to it the next day is akin to what an artist feels as his painting progresses.