The Art of STEM
“People think that science and art are different, but they’re not. They’re just looking at the same thing from a different part of the room.”
– Abigail Lowry ’22
For Abigail Lowry ’22, creativity is everywhere—especially in engineering.
“In middle school, I tried to figure out how the street sweepers worked, and I would take apart radios,” she says. Lowry took three engineering classes in high school and loved each, solidifying her decision to study the discipline in college.
When she began her college search, Lowry hoped to travel beyond her native Pennsylvania and sought out small liberal arts schools all across the U.S. Central’s engineering program appealed to her. “People are so nice in Iowa—way nicer than I’m used to in Pennsylvania. I felt welcomed when I came to visit, and everyone was so accommodating at freshman orientation. That clicked with me the most.”
Lowry remains confident as a woman in a field dominated by men. “In my engineering classes in high school, I was one of three girls in the first one and the only girl in the other two, so I just understood that was the reality. I don’t let it bother me,” she says. “Having a female advisor, Assistant Professor of Physics Liz Golovatski, has made being one of two women in the program easier. She knows what it’s like to be one of the few women in the field, and it’s affirming to see a woman who had succeeded despite that. Being her advisee might seem like a small thing, but that female mentorship does make a difference.”
Professors across all departments—engineering, physics and math—have encouraged Lowry. “All the professors have been really open, which means so much. Professor of Mathematics Russell Goodman linked his students to a hilarious video about office hours. It said, ‘If you need help, if you’re struggling, if you just want to say hi, if you want to eat a sandwich with me, come to office hours.’ I’ve found that professors really do want to help, which is awesome.”
Lowry hopes to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. The creativity that accompanies it, such as developing prosthetics, has always fascinated her. A gifted poet, visual artist and knitter, Lowry advocates for creative mindsets within STEM.
“People think that science and art are different, but they’re not. They’re just looking at the same thing from a different part of the room,” she says. “Poetry is a rearrangement of language that makes you think, and visual art is a way to represent familiar elements of the world in a new way. Meanwhile, you look at a flower and think it’s beautiful, but if you understand the flower and the processes that led to its creation, then it becomes more beautiful—that’s how engineering works. It’s simply another way of rearranging the world to see it in a more beautiful way.”
Lowry has grown personally as well as academically and creatively at Central. “There’s a lot of freedom that comes with college, so if you want to try something, try it. College is one of the last opportunities you’ll have to explore things, unless you want to uproot your entire life later. Find friends who can support you, too. Even though college is about being independent and finding new opportunities for yourself, you don’t have to do it by yourself all the time. Recognize when you need help and that asking for it is just as important as independence.”
In a message for aspiring female engineers, she adds this: “Try not to mind being the only girl in the room, either, because sometimes that can be powerful. To be the only person doing something—that makes you special.”
— Profile written by: Marin Harrington ’21
Check out Civitas, Central’s alumni magazine, to read how Abigail’s Central journey concluded.