Beyond the fuzzy techy divide

While I was studying at Stanford the terms "fuzzy" and "techy" were common labels for students studying social science/humanities versus physical science/engineering.  Those labels persist today as described in this piece from a current Stanford student (Gwynn Lyons).

Stanford University

Gwynn says

By choosing to study the humanities, I have said “yes” to humanity, in all its grandeur and success, as well as its abject failure.

As an engineer that quote resonates with me too.  I believe engineering, as a profession has said "yes" to humanity as well.  Admittedly the contributions engineers make are typically expressed in a different form than someone who has studied linguistics.  Though boundaries are continually blurring.  One superb example is the MPAi tool being developed by a team including Assoc. Prof. Catherine Watson from the University of Auckland's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  MPai enables users to hear the correct pronunciation of a Māori word, record and analyse their own pronunciation and get feedback on what is right and what is wrong.

I believe that kind of binary distinction (fuzzy versus techy) between people and their choice of study or work isn't useful.  For innovation to proceed in ways that benefit all of society then pathways to engage with creating systems and technologies must be open to all - regards of whether someone prefers to read Python code or Plato.  A recent development on campus that has a similar philosophy is the new Unleash space.

The Unleash Space is your space for creating, playing, making, inventing, experimenting and doing at the University of Auckland. It’s where you can find and build your community. Together or individually, you can build things, come up with ideas and develop them, prototype, test and have fun doing so, in a welcoming collaborative environment.

I am truly excited about the potential that the Unleash space has to continue to bridge the fuzzy techy.  I hope to see Arts students learning to program Arduinos, and students of the so-called "hard sciences" working with soft materials.


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