ASEE NCS Conference 2019

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Revisiting the Value of Poetry Forums in Colleges of Engineering

16 years ago, a poetry contest was initiated in the College of Engineering at XXX. It was decided that there was a need to allow engineering students to think outside the box, visit written areas outside the technical, and to revisit writing that they had practiced or enjoyed in the past. The idea was to give everyone the chance to relaxingly put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and let the creative juices flow. For almost eleven years, the production of students, faculty, staff, and alumni filled page after page, assembling almost 500 works of creativity. At that point, production began to wane and for five years the poetry, now a forum, atrophied, much like the writing skills of many engineers. Finally, the forum ceased to function. The idea is now to bring back the heyday of poetry writing and re-instill, especially in the undergraduate and graduate population, a desire to venture onto the page and produce poetry in whatever form it takes. It is with that we have started to look at how we might encourage the writing of poetry, show the importance of experimenting with other forms of writing, and eventually to bring back the production of poetry that we saw in previous years. In order to give a complete view of how the forum emerged, the history of the forum is detailed in the introduction. The new efforts to revive the previous positive efforts required us realizing that simply putting out signs saying, “Poetry Forum – Submit,” might have little or no effect upon the population. It was going to take an effort that, hopefully, would culminate in actual poetry production. It was decided that we would capture as much feedback from the students, faculty, and staff concerning their desire or lack thereof to participate in the forum. Initial surveys were prepared to cover the three main groups (students, faculty, and staff) and find out if they were interested and willing. The survey and its results will be discussed in detail. Questions on this survey will be used to instill insights into why individuals were willing or unwilling to write. Faculty were encouraged to talk to their students about the possibility of spending a little time on a different kind of writing task. These two methods were bolstered by randomly picking freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes and presenting a short incentive presentation to whet the appetite of the class. A quick survey after the presentations provided more feedback on whether individuals would participate. The results of the various methods will be discussed along with an overview of the forum itself, samples of poetry, and plans for future activities in writing outside the technical box.

Craig Gunn
Michigan State University
United States


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