LU News Archive

facebook twitter Linkedin Email

kinetic sculpture project fosters collaboration between art and engineering students

A $25,000 gift from Maryann and Don Lyle will support an innovative design project for two kinetic sculptures that will be erected in the College of Engineering’s Cherry Building at Lamar University. LU alumnus Don Lyle, a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Board, and his wife, Maryann, are the founders of the Don M. and Maryann Lyle Foundation.

Two student teams from the College of Fine Arts and Communication and College of Engineering will receive scholarships and funding to cover the cost of materials needed to develop their sculpture concepts. Visual arts and engineering faculty members will advise the students and a faculty committee will select two projects for development during the Fall 2016 semester.

The idea originated with Don Lyle, and coincided with engineering dean Srinivas Palanki’s desire to have something to grace the lobby of the main entry into the Cherry Engineering Building. After Palanki met with Donna Meeks, professor and chair of the art department, and Kurt Dyrhaug, professor of sculpture, a proposal to create two floor or wall-mounted kinetic art pieces was presented to the Lyles.

This semester, six students from art and four from engineering will be chosen to participate in the project.   Each student will receive a $500 scholarship. During the summer, the students will develop several “pencil and paper” proposals to present to a committee. Two proposals will be selected to go forward under the tutelage of Dyrhaug and Hassan Zargarzadeh, assistant professor in electrical engineering, with the goal of completing the projects during the fall 2016 semester.

“Collaboration between academic disciplines provides learning experiences that are unique and valuable,” said Derina Holtzhausen, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

“In this case, bringing students together from what are traditionally analytical and creative disciplines respectively has tremendous potential,” Holtzhausen said. “We are grateful to the Lyles for their support in making this happen. I am looking forward to seeing the results.”

Palanki added, “this will be kinetic art, so it is the engineers who will make it move and the artists who will make it look good.”

“This project will benefit both the colleges and the students,” Palanki said. “It helps engineering when potential students come to visit and can see that engineering can be exciting. Displaying student-made projects shows that they’ll have opportunities to do cool things while they’re students at LU.”

“Collaboration with art is part of the natural progression in society,” Palanki said referencing John Adams, U.S. diplomat and politician who once wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, in 1780: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

“What we’re building today is uplifting the soul in some sense,” Palanki said. “Engineering is not all practical, but also speaks to the finer things in life.”