I’m really excited to share STEM Modular with you; a project I’ve been working on for the past few years. As some of you may know, I completed an electrical engineering degree in 2015 after almost 6 years of studying. This was not even a little bit easy for me. I struggled with math and science in my youth, and was even specifically discouraged from pursuing an engineering degree based on my academic performance. Fortunately I developed an interest in electronic music production, and was able to eventually digest an engineering curriculum in the context of drum machines and music synthesizers. It didn’t make the work any easier, but knowing where that effort could lead made a huge difference.
Through my experience I began to wonder if there were other people like myself, interested primarily in being creative, but able to tackle science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts through something fun, like making music. Electronic music stands out particularly, mostly because I find recreating a Timbaland bass line quite enjoyable (maybe I’ve watched Magic Mike one too many times), but also because behind a simple knob twist there are direct correlations to more technical concepts. STEM Modular approaches electronic music through modular synthesis, which is a way of making music with audio building blocks, creating a custom instrument by connecting modules together however you choose. It is more complex than strumming a guitar, and looks like it might belong on a primitive spaceship, but it provides maximum creativity and distills music down to its core components.
The aim is to present STEM in a playful and empowering way, to ensure that STEM careers (and paychecks) aren’t limited to those that can afford fancy schools and tutors. We all use electronics everyday, yet the people developing these products and technologies largely come from similar backgrounds. An inclusive approach to STEM that reveals real world applications can lead to a more diverse workforce and democratize technological advancements.
I know that despite my best attempt to explain all of this, it might still seem a little abstract. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ll have videos and sounds and images popping up very soon that will add clarity, and hopefully be entertaining too. A large part of STEM Modular will be workshops and programming for libraries, community centers, and art spaces (anywhere a fresh take on STEM can be helpful), so if you are an educator or know of a venue that would like to host an event, let’s talk! Thanks for reading this long post, and hopefully I’ll get to show you some of these gizmos in person very soon!