Carnegie Mellon University

Finkelsteyn painting a self-portrait

January 26, 2021

Merging Art and Engineering for Innovative Solutions

CEE senior Nika Finkelsteyn’s talent for both art and engineering allows her to discover innovative ways to tackle engineering problems. A passionate artist, she balances her engineering studies with coursework in photography and fine arts.

Finkelsteyn discovered her artistic talents while still in middle school, and turned her focus to visual arts as a teenager. She also had an interest in engineering and sought out a university that would allow her to follow both passions. Finkelsteyn applied to CMU because of its solid reputation in both art and engineering, and was accepted into the CFA program. She transferred into CEE for her sophomore year.

Though she’s firmly entrenched in CEE, Finkelsteyn is continuing to work toward an art minor to complement her engineering degree. “Most of the time I’ve allocated for art [in school] has been for photography. I’m hoping to take a painting class before I leave.” Over the winter break she took some time to explore watercolor portraiture, which provided a creative outlet.

Finkelsteyn’s creative and analytical sides allow her to utilize a multi-faceted approach to tackling assignments. Her engineering studies benefit from artistic influences while her art projects are impacted by her engineering mind. “I like to add in engineering skills, when applicable, to art projects. I frequently offer to do construction drawing for CEE project groups, or start doodling at the whiteboard during brainstorming sessions.”

She revels finding unique, out of the box solutions to problem. “When introduced to a project or problem, I visualize the scenario in my head. Then I’ll apply the engineering knowledge I’ve gained to figure out if what I envisioned is even feasible.”

And while some might be surprised by a future engineer minoring in art, Finkelsteyn believes that the two areas fit well together. She asserts that the combination of skills will benefit her long after graduation. “It seems engineering firms are always looking to hire those that can generate creative solutions,” she says. Currently, she is looking at opportunities in fields that will make a positive impact in the environment or energy sectors.

Instagram: nikadoesart