Art and science are often considered polar opposites, and students can feel the pull to choose one or the other. Engineering or English? Computer science or art? Biology or music? However, employers today are increasingly seeking graduates with skill sets that blend the best of both worlds—the ability to interpret data and draw conclusions, to think and communicate creatively, to reason effectively, to work with others to solve problems, to make informed decisions.
Meet Kyle Lambert, a Walla Walla University student who is finding creative ways to combine his passion for areas of study that are stronger together.
It’s a beautiful thing when a high school teacher can say, “I told you so,” to one of their former students. But that’s giving away the end of this story.
Prior to second grade, Kyle Lambert wanted to be an astronaut. “Then when I was in second grade the space shuttle Columbia blew up,” Lambert says. “I heard about that and I was like, you know what, I’ll help build these things instead.”
That was the beginning of Lambert’s fascination with engineering, and it has remained to this day. But when he was in high school at Mount Ellis Academy, teacher Leisel Rogers entered the picture with some fancy ideas about music and theater.
“Mrs. Rogers loved music and theater,” Lambert says. “And, of course, as a music teacher, she was trying to sell us on it all the time. I wasn’t really buying it. She said, ‘Someday you’ll change your mind and I’ll be able to say, “I told you so.”’”
During his senior year at Mount Ellis, Lambert got involved with a production of the play “12 Angry Men,” and his response surprised him. “I loved it,” he says.
Now, as a senior at WWU, Lambert has taken that love of theater, blended it with his goal to be an engineer, and thrown in a minor in mathematics for good measure. He started off running the lighting board for a handful of stage productions. He went on to take specialized classes in lighting design and has been the lighting designer for eight WWU productions. He even won the Lighting Design Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for his work on the WWU production of “A Wrinkle in Time.” “Lighting design is my specific interest in theater, but overall my interest is in how it explores life and philosophy and ideas.”
Lambert has discovered that his skills in engineering and theater influence each other. “You can approach lighting from a technical standpoint and from a creative, artistic standpoint. And now I think about engineering a little more from a design perspective. I think someone who can explore both areas gets a more complete picture of the world and life and how things work.”
As he gets ready to graduate in June 2020, Lambert can look back at college and see he hasn’t left much out. He was a student missionary dean and teacher for 18 months in Denmark. During that time he learned to speak Danish and to enjoy teaching.
“I always try to think about when I look back, what am I going to see? When I look back, am I going to see that I’ve gone where God was pointing me at the moment, or was He pointing me somewhere else and I ran in a different direction?” Lambert says. “Most of the time, I feel like I’ve hit the big things. There are some things that looking back it’s like, well nope, I didn’t quite hit that one. But you know He’s worked with it.”
Lambert is considering career options in aerospace engineering and is exploring graduate work in a climate-related field. He is also thinking about getting involved in community theater and going into deaning.
“During my time as a student missionary I really enjoyed the connections I made with the students—seeing how they grew, how they changed, where their interests were,” he says. “I still talk with a number of my students. I want to know what they’re doing in life and where they’re going next. It’s really cool to see people change over time.”
And Mrs. Rogers? “I ran into her two years after I got to Walla Walla when she was on campus for a choral festival,” Lambert says. “I walked over and said to her, ‘You can say it now—“I told you so.”’”
Posted March 31, 2020.