This week I audited a lecture given by the lead professor of a big mechanical engineering course that I’m involved in. I was there to signal my interest and get some information on an upcoming assignment.
At some point, the students were prompted to draw a human-powered hovercraft. I was sitting next to another communications lecturer, Mary, and we looked at each other, as if to say, Are we gonna do this, too? After all, we don’t draw — we write, we speak, we teach.
And yet, we were there. So, we gave it a whirl, too.
Anyway, mine is powered by a jolly human who steps up and down on resistance pedals, like on a stair master. The action of the pedals somehow fills a series of air bladders, which collect compressed air, and then force the air, incrementally, down into an air reservoir. The air forcefully puffs out of an array of pores, which creates a cushion of air between the craft and the ground.
I certainly felt humbled by doing the exercise — what I can’t draw, what I don’t know — but I also, by drawing, thought much more deeply about the challenge than I would have if I had just watched the students in the class draw.
It was a good chance, actually, to be a student myself for an hour.
And rudimentary as my drawing is? Once I submitted to the spirit of the task, making it was fun, like being 12 years old and building a fort with the neighborhood gang.