WRITER: Tiffany Acosta
It’s an average week for New Mexico State University’s Pride of New Mexico Marching Band members as they learn “Hips don’t lie” by Shakira for a medley during a halftime show at Aggie football games.
What might be surprising is the number of engineering majors in the ensemble – 27 members.
“I think there are so many engineering majors in Pride because it can be a release and a way to use the ‘other side’ of the brain and get to be more creative,” said Kameron Lozano, civil engineering junior. “We often get too caught up in being analytical that it can be relieving to do something creative and use music as an outlet.”
Mechanical and aerospace engineering junior Brigid Sharer said, “I think this correlation exists because marching band takes a lot of focus and the aspect of marching really requires you to count and to think, which is what engineers are best at.”
College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi Reddi isn’t surprised by a connection between engineering and music.
“Engineers appreciate beauty in rhythm and order,” he said. “In everything they create, minimal resources and energy are used. It is easier for them to develop interests, and excel, in music, poetry and other liberal arts.”
“Music helps people develop the skills so that they can understand complex relations,” said Cayden Wilson, industrial engineering graduate student. “From the patterns and harmonies that are created in music, it helps players become more creative and can transfer to other things they do in life including their engineering studies.”
A Pride member since 2012, Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering technology. Currently, the former baritone player is in his second year as the logistics and operations coordinator, before he was a member for three years, drum major for one year and assistant director for one year.
For Jose Rodriguez, who is a chemical and materials engineering senior slated to graduate in May, music is an escape.
“Music is a passion of mine. I can get away from the world just by playing my trumpet,” said the fifth-year Pride member.
While many students use music as a creative outlet, the commitment to Pride also can be time consuming. In a typical week, two-hour rehearsals are held three days a week with a possible additional session before gamedays or large events for an average of six to nine hours per week. Home Aggie football gamedays for Pride members consists of 12- to 13-hour days.
Lozano admitted juggling academic and Pride responsibilities can be a challenge, but the third-year Pride member focuses on time management and keeping a calendar.
“It can be very stressful at times, especially during midterms, but getting all of my school work done, then getting to play the trumpet is always rewarding,” she said.
NMSU’s College of Engineering, the oldest engineering college in the state, has six departments and offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
“I chose to major in engineering because I wanted to be able to do something to make a change in the world,” Sharer said.
Following graduation, Sharer, a third-year piccolo player, plans to move to Bremerton, Washington, to work as a nuclear engineer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
“I was actually a music education major for my first year and a half in college. One day I woke up and decided to pursue civil engineering. Growing up, STEM classes were always something I was drawn to so it wasn’t something completely out of the blue, but it was definitely a sudden change for me and it still is,” said Lozano, who wants to attend graduate school after earning her bachelor’s degree.
Wilson majored in engineering because he enjoys the challenge of understanding how things work.
“The technical side of everything we interact with in our daily life intrigued me, and with the advances of technology I wanted to be part of the development.”
Following the completion of his master’s degree in December, Wilson wants to work for a company that develops new interfaces for hardware systems.
While studying engineering and playing in the Pride can be difficult at times, Rodriguez said the effort is worth it.
“Every year holds tremendous and amazing memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.”