Hi! I am Griffith (they/their), a first year student. When applying to schools as an engineering student, the expectation is that almost all your emphasis will be on math and science. I know this was my mindset coming to Olin.
When I first came to Olin, I was “all engineering all the time.” All my hobbies and interests screamed engineering. For example, I built and designed my own keyboards. I did a lot of stuff with computers including messing around with Linux, building computers, water cooling computers, and refurbishing laptops (I bought and sold ThinkPads). All of the career paths I was thinking of were all “standard engineering”.
The longer I have been at Olin, the more I have felt encouraged to explore creative pursuits outside of engineering. Initially, I did not pursue anything outside of STEM because I did not see myself as especially creative or artistic. But over the course of the school year, the idea of branching out into other fields has become much more appealing. Today, all of my extracurriculars and personal projects are about things other than engineering.
Most recently, I have been writing poetry (which I plan to compile into a Zine for the Zine BOW Collective). Writing poetry has been a great experience because it is something without a due date, without a grade, and is a creative outlet completely under my control.
Other things I have participated in include starting CRAFT club, where I created a whole craft supply closet. There are also craft meetings where we get together and craft (jewelry, felt, painting, etc.) and watch shows. I was also a cofounder of the Zine club and the Zine BOW (Babson, Olin, Wellesley) Collective, where we help support zine writers and sponsor zine events.
Why do I tell you this?
Because when I was choosing a college last year, one of the last things on my mind was how my potential engineering school would encourage me to branch out in other ways and be creative and artistic. If you are still making your decision on which school to go to (as many of you are), make sure you are considering things outside of the engineering experience. Having artistic and creative escapes has been one of the single most valuable things that I have added to my college life. It helps me to relieve stress and be more productive and effective in school.
What makes Olin unique in this aspect?
Traditionally (and in my experience), the culture of many engineering schools (especially at large universities) does not look very fondly at arts and other creative endeavors. They can even become a bit of a joke at times. While many schools will have great extracurriculars in creative and artistic areas, I have found that Olin engineering culture does a great job of integrating and supporting artistic endeavors within the engineering experience.
The biggest contributors to this culture are the students.The students at Olin are wonderful! They have such a huge variety of skills and interests: theater, painting, drawing, writing, crafts, baking, cooking, singing, etc. A result of this is that we have lots of clubs and events - started and participated in by all engineering students - in artistic fields. Seeing the same students you take math and science classes with also participate in areas outside of STEM for fun makes it feel safe to explore your own interests outside of STEM.
To wrap things up, I have had a great experience with Olin’s attitude towards artistic and creative pursuits. I have become a lot more interested in the arts since coming to Olin, and I think the strong connection between engineering and arts is very important and strongly lacking at many traditional universities. Wherever you decide to go, make sure you make sure you can find a creative relief.