Alumnus connects poetry and engineering

November 20, 2013

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Clayton Grow

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — When reading poetry, scientific theories and mathematical equations tend to be the farthest thing from your mind. However, Clayton Grow, a 2001 University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduate, saw a connection. In his new book, “Poetry for Engineers,” Grow explores the seemingly distant concepts of poetry and engineering and brings them into harmony.

Grow hopes his book will allow people to relate to engineering principles in a new way. “I have always felt a strong connection between art and science, and I wanted to embody that by writing about the things that impacted my career and education,” said Grow. “I feel like I am the connection between the two and that people can be the connection between the artistic and science worlds.”

His poems began as phrases jotted in the margins of his notebook in engineering classes and soon developed into works such as “PLUMB,” a poem about a tool establishing a true vertical line. Grow felt his handwritten notes made the concepts and poems more approachable, but didn’t want to subject the reader to his sloppy handwriting. Instead, he typed his poems on a 1930s era typewriter to enhance the feeling of realness he wanted his work to convey.

Grow cited his time at UW-Platteville as a civil engineering major as having a powerful impact on his career. His professors emphasized not only the mathematics and technical precisions, but also the practical aspects of engineering. They made an effort to talk about real-world applications and how engineers must be able to develop relationships. Grow expresses his gratitude for his time at UW-Platteville through his poetry and by sharing the lessons he learned.

When not working as a senior research engineer, documentation at Convergent Science in Middleton, Wis., Grow is taking on the challenge of hiking the more than 1,000 mile-long Ice Age Trail that covers much of Wisconsin. He documents many of his hikes, though they haven’t been made into poems yet.  

Written by: Megan Hinderman, Distance Learning, (608) 342-1468, hindermanm@uwplatt.edu

Formatted by: Nicole Smith, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, smithnico@uwplatt.edu

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