Casey Biles will be graduating from Miami of Ohio with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. She has interned with a variety of different groups such as a documentary film team, a professional glass blower, the Louisville Science Center, and Peptides International. On campus, she helped teach ballroom dance to fellow students, run a week long game of tag called Humans Vs Zombies, and is a member of Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute Cohort 3.
Chemical Engineering Student at Miami University
Chad: So what activities over the past 4 years do you think have helped you develop your creativity?
Casey: Well first off there’s been a couple organizations that I’ve been part of that have been related to my engineering degree such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Engineering Student Council, and the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute. However, some of the organizations that have really been fostering my creativity have been having to help teach some of the ballroom classes, being part of swing syndicate where I’ve learned how to do swing dance. I’ve also been involved in a couple internships that helped film a documentary, I’ve done a photography study abroad in Australia, and I’ve also been involved in a couple internships that helped film a documentary. And I’ve also helped to moderate Humans vs Zombies which is basically a game of over a hundred people throwing marshmallows at each other.
Chad: Cool. So when talking about engineering the word innovation is often thrown around, how do you think creativity and innovation relate to each other?
Casey: Well, innovation is a response to a need or problem that we have and how we look at it and how we think we can make a difference. This can either be solving a problem, it can be curing diseases, it could be coming out with some new technology that will help someone in their life or make things easier for them. Creativity is how we choose to go about it. Creativity is taking the limitations that we have and deciding “Ok these are the parameters I have, how am I going to go around this, how am I going to work with this to make something fantastic?”
Chad: So what is your overall view of creativity?
Casey: One of the biggest concepts I think that is hard for people to grasp is that creativity does not mean, is completely generated and conceptualized on your own. When I am writing or coming up with a novel way to approach an issue I talk to other people. I listen to their input on the issue and sometimes I don’t even mention what I’m contemplating at all. Just listening to what other people have to say or just talking to them can sometimes be enough to trigger something in my mind that will give me an answer. The enemy of creativity is being stagnant, you can never think in a different unique way if you insist upon having the same mindset. And if talking to people isn’t what helps inspire you also just watching movies listening to music, going on a walk, and sometimes if you’re approaching an engineering issue then reading other research, looking at other things that people have done will also really help you look at other perspectives and see how you can approach the issue.
Chad: If you had to go back and do it again would you still choose to pursue an engineering degree throughout college and do you think that has inspired your creativity and given you a different outlook on then pursuing a more creative degree such as, you know, dance or an art major?
Casey: Probably what I would have done is, instead of engineering, which is a very demanding and very intense curriculum, I probably would have gone with chemistry or biochemistry and paired that with something that is a little bit more creative-oriented like dance or writing but I’m overall very happy with how I’ve chosen to pursue my degree. It has opened many doors for me. I still believe that I can express my creative side and ironically enough at one of my internships for Peptides International I had been working in the lab for while and I approached them again and asked them if I would be able to come back for another summer and work in the lab and one of the first things they said was “Yes, you probably can but would you also be willing to take pictures for us?” Because my last day in Peptides I took pictures for all of the people working there. I took professional headshots and they currently use them all on my blah they currently use them all on their website now.
Chad: So let’s see, what else have we got. Um. (silence) So thinking back to your childhood, how you think creativity has been prevalent in your life, I guess throughout your lifetime?
Casey: Well one of the big things is that my parents have always fostered an idea of creativity and they know that that’s how I operate. Being, I guess sitting down and trying to study has never worked for me but then if I’m always up and doing something, if I’m cooking, if I’m also drawing at the same time then I’m far more likely to retain information and from there, those really helped me understand how I work how I really think creativity is a big part of my life.
Chad: So how do you think creativity relates to science?
Casey: The way that I view creativity and science is not that different at all. I explained that they work the same way as kind of a poem would work. A sonnet consists of 14 lines with 10 syllables each. It can be considered very restrictive. It has a very difficult rhyme scheme to follow, and yet it is still one of the most popular ones that is ever used. In my research lab, I was required to move a heavily adhesive compound from five containers into a large one. Adding a dilute acid could help but it could also really damage the product and denature the proteins. Both of these examples involve rules that must be very carefully followed, However, within these parameters, we can be creative and work out solutions...Uhm with the proteins we had to move, we tried almost everything you could think of. We tried just scraping, that took almost two hours to move from one um container to the larger one. And eventually we arrived at the idea that we should use a small amount of acid that probably would not damage it and use a spinner with it as long as along with a rotator.
Casey: and eventually we arrived at the idea that we should probably use a small amount of acid that would probably not damage it and use a spinner with it along with a rotator. And within this we managed to come up with a solution, instead of just scraping away and taking almost ten hours to move one thing. And instead, working on other projects at the same time. So I think that’s why people don’t really think about creativity, the y think that it is so cut and dry, that it is the only way they can do things, when actually it’s not. Science is all about exploring other ideas and other ways to think and I think we’ve lost that in a lot of ways.
Chad: What are some major influences in your life?
Casey: Well one of the major influences that I had in my life for creativity is the woman I did an internship with. Her name is Claire Robby. She is a lamp worker and for most people, no that does not mean she makes lamps. This means that it is a very smaller scale form of glass blowing and making glass beads. I met her through an art festival where I just talked to her for a while about taking the lampworking class here at Miami. And based on how passionately I talked about it, she asked me if I would be willing to be an intern for her. And I was just so taken aback that she would be willing to take a stranger in and teach her what she knows. So for the rest of that summer, I got to go in and work with her. And she would just teach me different tricks, she would review my work. And I guess what’s just so amazing about her is, she is just so fiercely independent, she is amazing, she is creative, she will see one piece of glass and work her best to see one, how can she use that technique, how can she utilize it, and how can she make that her own. She always inspired me to be a creative person, to see the best in others, she is amazing. And I really really hope I have made her proud.
Chad: So a lot of what you have said about creativity has to do with experiences and how they have influenced you. How do you plan on continuing to leave opportunities open for you to experience new things?
Casey: Well at a certain point, I’m going to have to keep trying harder, because I guess theoretically I will run out of things eventually. But that’s the other beautiful thing is that my parents have raised me very much in the art of, well not Art of, but raised me to travel a lot and we don’t have a lot of money, but we allotted what money we had to traveling. And that’s something I have always wanted to do more of, when I graduate I will probably explore more photography opportunities abroad. I would love to go and teach. One of the biggest things when I had visited Spain, they talked about how they wanted a lot more English speaking teachers. So, that could be something that I would be interested in doing. Just anything that I can experience, I want to try for it. My goal in life is to be that lady in a nursing home that All the school kids gather around because she’s telling so many crazy stories about just all the things that she has done. I want to have a story worth telling at the end.
Chad: Could you tell me more about the internship that you had where you filmed the documentary?
So the documentary was about this church and one of the couples that um went to it realized that they had saved very well um and they wanted to donate something really good and really personal to the church well. They decided on five stained glass windows and then from there, other people in the church got really inspired and different groups decided to donate a certain amount of money to have other stained glass windows put into it. And we also got to interview the um couple we got to interview the priest who is part of this and a couple other people of the congregation. Then we actually got to go and talk to the artists themselves. The people that made the stained glass windows and what I thought was amazing about it was they really got to know the church that they were doing this artwork for. They really got to know the spirit behind them and they didn’t just make a piece of art just the first thing that came out of their mind. They really got to know the people they were making it for and I thought that was truly beautiful. We got to interview anyone who was involved in the process and it is just a really fantastic idea. Yeah so one of the most unique parts of this internship was I got the opportunity to shadow pretty much everyone who was part of the project. I became really good friends with the film makers and also realized that I’m far too short to hold a boom. Um. I got the opportunity to work with one of the best writers in Louisville. She really helped me put together a script because the first time I turned in something to her she sent it back to me and said “This looks like a paper that you wrote for school. Try again.” And kinda had to muster my ego up a little bit more so get that back together but I managed to really think about it in a way that would intrigue others and that was something that I never had to do before. I had never had to I guess really think about like okay what would intrigue my audience. It had always just been okay what does the professor want to see. What do they think would be good and just go from there. I also had a lot of um I also had a lot of things to do with the editing process where I had to transcribe where I had to listen to sound bytes. We had to correct them for any sound errors. And we had to also look at a B roll footage and a top. We got to use some of my pictures that I took of the actual church the and I guess other things that we were looking at for the documentary and I probably should mention what the documentary is about.
Casey: Hi. My name is Casey Biles. I am a senior chemical engineering major at Miami University. I am a ballroom dancer and a moderator of humans vs zombies.Thank you for listening for insight.
Categories | Creativity and Innovation
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