An engineering student at The University of Western Australia has challenged the popular notion that engineers are poor communicators by winning the Lawrence Wilson Gallery Art Writing Prize for 2011.
Eesha Patel, a final-year student, entered the competition while studying Engineering and Social Justice last year.
"Writing this essay was a great opportunity to creatively express my opinions on engineering and social justice, and when I found out I had won, I was very excited," Eesha said.
"However, I was also quite surprised because I knew the competition was open to all UWA students - including those studying non-technical subjects - so I never would have guessed that my writing could be comparable to other arts or humanities students.
"But now I know that it's possible, I would encourage all engineering students to keep nurturing their more creative communicative side as it's always good to have a balance of perspectives out there in the industry."
Course coordinator Caroline Baillie, Winthrop Professor in UWA's School of Environmental Systems Engineering and Chair in Engineering Education, said the students were asked to write about one of the pieces featured as part of last year's reconnaissance exhibition at the Lawrence Wilson Gallery.
The exhibition focused on art and social justice in the works of Bob Birch, Christopher Crouch, Susan Norrie and David Mackenzie, and Jon Tarry. Professor Baillie said several of the pieces were relevant to engineering, dealing with contemporary issues such as environmental hazards, mining and social impact, and airport layout.
Professor Baillie said Eesha's win was a great inspiration to younger women that engineering students did not have to give up a love of the arts and writing.
"It shows that they can be themselves and still be engineers," she said.
The Art Writing Prize is open to all UWA students and encourages original and creative scholarly responses to works of art presented at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. The winner's essay is published on the gallery website and they receive a cash prize of $500.
Eesha Patel (+61 4) 30 716 934
Winthrop Professor Caroline Baillie (UWA School of Environmental Systems Engineering) (+61 8) 6488 3137
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783