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March 26, 2013

Engineers and poetry: An odd couplet?

The words “engineers” and “poetry” are rarely, if ever, used in the same sentence.

However, that’s not the case at the Michigan State University College of Engineering, which this year is sponsoring its 13th annual poetry forum.

Organizer Craig Gunn, an academic specialist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said the two make a logical pair, as creativity is a necessary part of engineering or, for that matter, any other science discipline.

“Whether you’re designing a new tail light for a car or a new refrigerator or whatever, the creativity has to be there,” Gunn said. “Creativity involves thinking about a problem and coming up with a solution.”

Gunn said that on more than one occasion students have told him they wouldn’t take part because they aren’t creative.

“My response to that is: Are you going to go to Ford or GM or Motorola, look your prospective boss in the eye and say ‘I’m not creative?’” he said. “If you do that, they’ll say to you ‘thank you, but we don’t need to talk to you.’”

Gunn said they will take submissions about “engineering or anything else.” He said the forum is open to any student, faculty, staff member or anyone “loosely connected” with the College of Engineering.

The deadline for submitting a poem is 5 p.m. April 12. Prizes range from tuition scholarships to MSU memorabilia to coffee mugs.

Submissions can be in any form. In the past they’ve received everything from haikus to sonnets to prose poetry to limericks.

“We try to make it as fun as possible,” Gunn said. “It’s never an assignment. Just try your hand at it and see what you come up with.”

For more information, and to view submissions from past years, visit


By: Tom Oswald