Fall 2012

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Swingin’ Engineers

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Dance class for engineers inspires creativity and enhances collaboration.

In the spring engineering assistant dean Joseph Holtgreive and dance professor Billy Siegenfeld created a noncredit, five-session swing dance class that teaches selected engineering students the push and pull, rhythm and beat, weight and balance of the body through the Lindy Hop, a partner swing dance.

“McCormick stresses the idea of ‘whole-brain’ engineering, but we are really talking about engaging the ‘whole-body’ in the creative process,” said Holtgreive (McC88). “This is about helping our students connect to all their senses in order to bring their whole self to the act of problem solving.”

Siegenfeld, creator of his trademark Jump Rhythm Technique, said the technique behind doing this kind of rhythm-driven dancing comes from transforming the body into a percussion instrument — which the students did by both singing the rhythms they were dancing and feeling them through their hands. He encouraged the engineering students to experience the motion from rhythmic impulses rather than by-the-book dance steps.

“This was a natural opportunity for our students to engage in an activity that was maybe outside of their comfort zone or beyond the traditional engineering experience,” said Holtgreive, who hopes to offer this course for credit during the next academic year through the McCormick Office of Personal Development.