Is this painting a) abstract art, b) a realistic representation of a mode 1 fracture’s appearance when modeled by a computer, or c) a PhD requirement by Kaliat T. “K.T.” Ramesh, a WSE professor of mechanical engineering? You’ve earned an A+ if you answered “all of the above.”
Mechanical engineer Reuben Kraft, PhD ’08, painted this artistic interpretation of the colorful results of his doctoral research in modeling fractures in brittle materials. “When, modeled with computers, fracture and cracking show up with a range of stresses that get translated to beautiful color gradients using standard visualization techniques,” says the artist, now a research engineer at U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, MD.
Kraft is one of two PhD students thus far to fulfill Ramesh’s “Creative Presentation of the PhD” requirement. Fellow Army engineer Brian Schuster, PhD ’08, created a painting inspired by his dissertation: “Micro-Pillar Compression of Nanocrystalline and Amorphous Metals.” Also a musician, Kraft unveiled his painting with spoken verse and song titled “JHU Is a Wonderful Place” (to the tune of “To Be With You” by Mr. Big). Arguably the only song to capture the confluence of mechanical engineering, computers, rock and hip hop slang, its lyrics include: Solid mechanics with computational twist Materials and physics were also on my list I want to understand how materials rupture Getting jiggy with it at the microstructure.
“This is a chance for students to express themselves differently from the technical things that we do,” explains Ramesh, who is director of Hopkins’ Center for Advanced Metallic and Ceramic Systems. He is the first to admit a lack of artistic talent—“unless you think of lecturing as performance art,” he quips—but his objective is pure art. “I want my PhD students to see themselves as people and not just scientists,” he says. Next up: Jessica Meulbroek, PhD ’10, who is due to present her creative approach this fall. (Ramesh allows students to choose any genre and medium.)
Kraft is an enthusiast: “This is a great experience,” he says, “because it helps us see the beauty in our work, helps us share our enthusiasm about the research with other people, and creates art that has tremendous meaning with an interesting story behind the creative interpretation.”
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