CU-Boulder Engineers Write Poetry, Attend Opera As Part Of Herbst Humanities Program

Published: April 12, 2004

Engineering faculty, staff and students at the University of Colorado at Boulder have been scribbling sonnets and dabbling in Italian opera this semester as part of an initiative by the Herbst Humanities Program to engage engineers in the arts.

Winners of the first College of Engineering and Applied Science poetry contest will be announced during the annual Engineering Days festivities. The contest, which ran from January to March, includes five categories: Best Overall Poem, Finest Haiku, Most Apt Sonnet on the Engineering Center, Best Ode to Concrete and Most Insightful or Reflective Poem.

More than 150 poems were submitted by the March 31 deadline. Herbst faculty are serving as judges, and the winners will be announced Wednesday, April 14, at 5 p.m. during a special reception in the Discovery Learning Center.

In addition, more than 150 students, faculty and staff from the College of Engineering and Applied Science attended the CU Opera performance of Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" on March 12. The Herbst Humanities Program offered subsidized tickets, made possible by a private donation.

"The lively interest shown by engineers in our recent initiatives reveals the left brain, right brain dichotomy to be a misleading cliché," said Wayne Ambler, director of the Herbst Humanities Program. "Some see us as bringing the humanities to engineers, but here we have merely provided an occasion for bringing out the talents and interests of our colleagues and students."

The program was launched in the fall of 1989 through a gift from chemical engineering alumnus Clancy Herbst. It offers challenging seminars in literature, philosophy and the arts that are designed to meet the special needs of engineering students.

As part of the 2003-04 Herbst initiative, the program also has expanded its curriculum. It has launched a new freshman seminar, "Introduction to the Humanities," to exhibit the wide range of the humanities to first-year engineering students, and a course to be taught in Rome has been approved for May 2005.