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Finding the Art in Engineering through Cityscapes
Finding the Art in Engineering through Cityscapes
Posted on 10/01/2021
Introduction to Engineering looked a lot like an art class at the Nesbitt Discovery Academy.Featured Photos: 1. (Above) Student James Engelbrecht puts the final touches on a hand-drawn concept sketch of a cityscape. 2. (Below) Mr. Craig Orange discusses sketches with students in his Introduction to Engineering class. 3. (Below) Students prepare drawings at the Nesbitt Discovery Academy.

By: Benjamin Rickert
BCS Communications Dept.

Introduction to Engineering looked a lot like an art class in September at the Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy, and that was by design.

Mr. Craig Orange discusses concept sketches with students in his Introduction to Engineering class.Project Lead the Way teacher Craig Orange challenged ninth grade students to think creatively and visually as they approached the world of engineering. He encouraged them to use both sides of their brains as they tackle technical problems in high school. He also wants them to develop practical skills — like drawing concept sketches by hand — that will be useful during their academic and professional careers.

“Engineers are sometimes seen as left-brained, very straight-lined and analytical, with not as much right-brained thinking,” he explained. “But if you look at a Maserati or a Ferrari, there’s a lot of right-brain thinking that goes into that. Long before an automobile goes into production, you need to do some concept sketching.”

The Nesbitt students will eventually learn all about computer-aided design, but Orange has challenged students to do everything by hand so far this semester. His goal, he said, is to form a connection between the creative right side of the brain and the hand, so each student can envision and draw solutions to problems, as well as communicate complex ideas visually.

Students prepare drawings at the Nesbitt Discovery Academy.One class project was about drawing a cityscape with a two-point perspective. Each student drew an urban skyline with two roads disappearing into the distance. The exercise required students to carefully measure their angles, ensuring that decorations like trees, vehicles, people, and even shadows reduced in size proportionally as the perceived distance increased. Like an art class, Orange explained how Italian Renaissance artists like Brunelleschi and da Vinci used mathematics to create accurate artwork and architectural drawings.

“I didn’t draw as many buildings,” student Hallie Fay said of her drawing. “Instead, I wanted to have fewer and more detailed buildings with the cross-hatching techniques.”

For inspiration, Fay looked up photographs of cities, waterways, and tunnels. But rather than copy specific items, she used her intuition to prepare her own cityscape.

“It’s taught me how to draw 3-D objects better and how to do shading techniques,” added classmate James Engelbrecht.
“I wanted to make it look pretty realistic. I love having this open space in the front with all of the trees.”

Throughout the drawing exercises, Orange has encouraged students to stick with it and know that it is a skill that will serve them well. The students will eventually create and manipulate 3-D models using computer software, adding textures and light sources for realism.

“If a student can learn to draw now, they will carry that skill through their life,” said Orange, who formerly worked in the civil engineering field. “When a project manager sees that they have that skill, they will be pulled into a conference room more often than not to help a client convey an idea. It will give them more exposure to the top end of the company and its leadership.”

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