‘Art & Science Collide’ celebrates the yin and yang of stimulating the left and right sides of our brains, fostering a more holistic, creative, and innovative community. City Blog wanted to meet some folks who are part of both worlds – engineers and scientists with the soul of artists, or maybe it’s artists with the brains of engineers.
Name: David Hewitt
Original hometown: Denver
Family: Wife Emily, dog Cassie, and cat Callie
Connect: Foot Pound Force
About David: A musician who plays bass guitar in the local nerd rock band Foot Pound Force. He is a songwriter and singer in the band as well as in solo performances with guitar.
The engineering side: Hewitt is a rocket propulsion engineer with over 20 years of experience in the space industry from amateur efforts to small startups to NASA work as well as Department of Defense work.
I have come to realize that there is not much of a line between arts and engineering.”
He “discovered” Huntsville as a camper at Space Camp, then came here to attend UAH. Says Hewitt, “I have had a deep lifelong passion for all aspects of space exploration and I try to keep that enthusiasm as fuel for my ventures today.”
What fueled your passion for the arts? “I have always had an artistic bent and have more talents than just music. I dabble in sketching and photography as well. I have a very deep pool of talent on my dad’s side of the family with painters, poets, sculptors, sketch artists and the like.
When I grew up as an only child, I was always around artists either being family members or friends of my parents and I was encouraged to develop my own artistic skills. I am the first one in many generations to cultivate my musical talents into what I do today and I have always been very passionate about music.”
How do you see the two worlds blending together? “As I have gotten older and more experienced in the engineering world, I have come to realize that there is not much of a line between arts and engineering.
Most of my colleagues are multi-talented super geniuses, and I am always amazed at the hobbies they have. Music and math go hand-in-hand, and in fact, I really did not fully understand the math in college until I taught myself to play guitar and joined a band (which I did not do until college). I have many co-workers that are also musicians, and one of my professors from UAH hosts jam sessions that feature his current and former students as well as other faculty.
As far as other artistic things are concerned, I have several engineering colleagues that are very talented at cosplay and prop making. They immediately apply art to engineering in their projects and vice versa. The professional engineering process is largely sanitized of art, but the process is an art. Art creeps into everything we do in very subtle ways.”
How do colleagues receive your “artsy” side? “My cosplay colleagues continually amaze me with what they come up with, and when we go to conventions like DragonCon I meet people from all over the place who are just like us.
My other two bandmates in Foot Pound Force are also engineers. We originally met in college and had jam sessions in the dorms over 20 years ago. Our drummer (Brandon Whitworth) can play any instrument that you put in front of him and plays mandolin in our acoustic set. He does modeling and simulation of explosions in his day job.
Our guitar player (Ken Barnes) is also a multi-instrumentalist and is a good drummer and keyboard player and has been a choir singer for most of his life. In his day job, he is a software systems engineer on the Space Launch System. When we play out of town, we actually market ourselves as a band of rocket scientists, but that is not really anything special in the Huntsville area.”
For more information on how arts and culture affect our community’s pulse and quality of life, connect with Arts Huntsville. The non-profit’s mission is to encourage community creativity and engagement in the arts through community events, public art, arts education initiatives, and member promotion and support.