Masters degrees for artists/engineers
April 23, 2010 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Help an craftsman with a BFA and an engineering bent find a masters program.

Can anyone recommend any masters programs with a science/engineering/technology bent that like applicants with a technical arts background?

I am thinking something in the mechatronics/mechanical engineering field but am open to anything.

About me: I graduated from an art school about 4 years back with a BFA in jewellery and metalsmithing. It was a focused program that had a strong emphasis on craftsmanship and problem solving.

I have hit the point where I feel I am not living up to my potential and I want to push my skills further, and do something different and challenging so I am looking into getting a masters degree.

My skillset is all over the map, I build a lot of kinetic sculptures, usually with compound lever chains to create things that expand, or interactive objects like very tall periscopes that can pan and tilt. I do a lot of cad design for my sculptures, and really enjoy a lot of the CAD/CAM technologies. I have also worked as blacksmith, graphic designer, sculptor, researcher, and shop assistant in a residency program.

What I truly love to do is solve weird problems, pretty much any how can I do this, or do it better type questions. I really enjoy learning new techniques in the process. I have a good feel for structure and material properties, and am good at visualizing complex moving parts. My math background isn't strong, but I can learn, though I kind of enjoy winging things by feel a little more.

I also like being a generalist and seeing the bigger picture and how things interact.

Any advice, no matter how random would be appreciated.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny to Education (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This pretty much exactly describes me, and what I studied. I did Art for a bit, and had a full ride scholarship for it, but didn't take it. I later studied ITEC, Industrial Technology - Manufacturing Systems. It's an offshoot of Industrial Engineering, that focuses more hands on than theory. I'm not sure of the qualifications mathwise or whatever, because I transferred to it after doing my time in the trenches of Mechanical Engineering, so all my credits transferred.

I found this much more satisfying and rewarding. It's completely hand on. You work with woods, plastics, metals, composites, everything. You learn all their properties and how to use them. Also, your CAD/CAM skills will be used. Employers also found the "hands on" part much more interesting and it translated into dozens of job offers, while my engineering cohorts had a few (Back when there was a hiring economy to speak of).

This is a program that's really open ended. I have friends that work for IBM, John Deere, Caterpillar, Honeywell, General Dynamics, set up construction sites, build machines, set up factories, and myself I do forensic work.
posted by sanka at 9:37 PM on April 23, 2010

I don't know if this is a Masters program anywhere, but a friend of mine did a college program for building prosthetics and orthotics. It certainly requires problem solving and an artistic bent, and knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics as well.
posted by emeiji at 11:02 PM on April 23, 2010

You may look into the program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They've been working on a new program for some years now called Entertainment Engineering and Design.
They're working to combine the arts, theater and engineering for practical application in the entertainment business. From what I saw there four years ago, it would be a haven for someone with a kinetic sculpture hobby and an engineering bent.
posted by Iggley at 11:19 PM on April 23, 2010

this is a project students of the EED program made. It's a working model of the stage used at Cirque du Soleil's show Ka.
posted by Iggley at 11:49 PM on April 23, 2010

Here's an article about what they do, with pics. (Sorry, it took me a while to find a really good one. I'll stop gushing now.)
posted by Iggley at 12:08 AM on April 24, 2010

If you're at all interested in a business oriented or innovation planning program, then the Master of Design Methods one year program (f/t) or 4 or 6 semesters part time at the Institute of Design, IIT Chicago is what I would recommend among others for someone of your background or interest. You dont' say where you are located, let me know and I'll recommend interdisciplinary programs in design, business and engineering that take the big picture perspective into account accordingly. Feel free to memail me for guidance.
posted by infini at 6:10 AM on April 24, 2010

For mechatronics/mechanical engineering, there are some strong programs in Europe.
posted by infini at 6:11 AM on April 24, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry, should have stated my location, I am in Calgary Alberta, but don't have any debts or commitments so I am mobile.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:48 AM on April 24, 2010

You may be interested in New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

*disclaimer : I was a student and occasionally teach there*
posted by tip120 at 1:36 PM on April 24, 2010

the ITP is very respected, imho just fyi
posted by infini at 2:41 PM on April 24, 2010

All your skills would be utilized (& prized) as an Architecture student. Check out Calatrava, Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron for examples where mechanics, kinetics, and art all come together. I do have to warn you that Architecture is a bad profession to in right now due to the economy.
posted by tfmm at 6:34 PM on April 24, 2010

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