Becker uses art to develop skills in industrial and systems engineering

Published: January 27, 2023 Author: Chloe Musick

“When you are able to express yourself, it boosts your confidence and allows you to approach problems in ways others would struggle to do,” said Anna Becker, fourth year industrial and systems engineering student. 

Becker loves industrial and systems engineering (ISE) because she loves problem solving. ISE students assess, processes and develop strategies to improve productivity and efficiency. According to Becker, the problem-solving skills used in engineering requires creative thinking, which can be fostered through creative activity like art. 

“In my field of industrial engineering, everything is about creative problem solving. You must find the maximum efficiency with the lowest cost, but that isn’t always black and white. There are 100 different paths, and you have to seek out the one that fits best,” said Becker. 

Students in ISE learn about process improvement techniques like Lean and Six Sigma. Lean focuses on reducing waste to improve systems and processes. Six sigma uses a statistical analysis approach to problem solving, requiring students to gather and analyze data and draw conclusions using the data.  

For Becker, this systematic way of thinking is supported by her creative problem solving, a skill she has been practicing in her art classes since high school. In fact, art has always been part of Becker’s life, from doodling in her notebook during class to designing and selling her handmade jewelry. Becker has demonstrated that art and engineering have been the perfect pairing for her success inside and outside of the classroom.  

“Engineers need to be well-rounded to make important decisions. Doing art makes me more mindful and it is a good way to cope with stress, which has allowed me to find balance in engineering,” said Becker.  

Alongside her undergraduate journey, Becker has launched her own business selling handcrafted jewelry. Today, she sells her jewelry online on Depop and at the farmers market in her hometown. She developed this idea during the height of the coronavirus pandemic to make money, but it has transformed into a positive outlet that reinforced Becker’s love of art.  

Anna Becker at farmers market
Anna Becker sells art art and jewelry at her local farmers market.

“I don’t charge a lot. In fact, I like selling because it makes me feel good that people are actually wearing the stuff I make,” said Becker.  

As she wraps up her final semester of her senior year, Becker hopes to land a job that will help her develop the skills to one day work in engineering consulting, allowing her to work alongside clients to improve their processes and reduce waste. She firmly believes that her skills in art have already made and will continue to make her a better engineer. 

“Art and engineering go hand-in-hand — they both thrive off of thinking outside of the box and imagination,” said Becker.