From STEM to STEAM – Why “Art” is so Critical

Recently on a college visit, I learned about the new movement of STEM to STEAM. As STEM grows in popularity, it feels like we are missing a really important component – Art. While touring a prestigious university, I noticed one of the newer buildings on campus. It was a monstrosity! It was ugly! I couldn’t understand how they could build such a huge building without taking into consideration the aesthetic design. It stuck out like a sore thumb. It really demonstrated how important art and design are when talking about STEM. I believe that our society needs to add “Art” to the STEM equation. Without art and design, what are we building? How will people relate? What are we leaving for future generations. Below is information about STEAM as designed by RISD.

From the Rhode Island School of Design website –

What is STEAM?

In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future.

Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century.

We need to add Art + Design to the equation — to transform STEM into STEAM.

STEM + Art = STEAM

STEAM is a movement championed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals.

The objectives of the STEAM movement are to:

  • transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
  • encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education
  • influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

Advanced Things to Consider when Choosing a College

This can be one of the hardest decisions to make. For some students, the choice is very clear, but for many it is not. Part of the application process should include researching the schools in which you plan to apply. Something that many guides  or checklists leave out is researching the departments and professors. It’s not enough that the school you are applying to has your major, but what do they offer within that major. Here are some tips –

1 – Research the professors. What are the professor’s interest, research work and backgrounds. Do their interests align with your interests?

2 – What types of classes are offered in your majors of interests? Many majors can cover broad options. You should research the course handbook to see of there are many classes you are interested in taking.

3 – Are there undergraduate research opportunities or advanced projects? Are there study abroad programs or enrichment opportunities?

4 – If you are planning on attending graduate school, how many students are getting in to grad school who have completed their education at the college you are considering? This can become especially important for students applying to med school or law school.

5 – Are there study groups for pre-med (MCAT) or pre-law (LSAT) exams?

6 – What kind of internship opportunities are available? Who are some of the notable alumni? What are your networking opportunities? Internships and networking opportunities will often be the most critical piece in obtaining a job after graduation.