8 Words to Describe Living ArtsEngine
January 28, 2020
Living ArtsEngine Staff

What is Living ArtsEngine? Perhaps you know it as the only Michigan Learning Community (MLC) on the mysterious (and criminally underrated) North Campus. Or maybe you’re unsure of how to categorize it – is its focus art, or engineering? (Hint: it’s both, and more!) 

Here’s the truth: Living ArtsEngine is a dynamic, creative group of students who are excited by new ideas and are unafraid to take the leaps to enact them. Here are eight words to help you get to know what Living ArtsEngine is all about:


Living ArtsEngine brings together students from the School of Music, Theatre and Dance; Stamps School of Art & Design; College of Engineering; Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; and School of Information, as well as other disciplines. With approximately 80 first-year students and 20 peer mentors, Living ArtsEngine is a tight-knit group that values connection and communication, individuality, and acceptance.

Whether it’s sharing ideas at the monthly all-community meetings, or gathering for “family dinner” in the dining hall, Living ArtsEngine students are embedded in a welcoming home to inspire and motivate them during their transition to college living.


“Interdisciplinary” doesn’t just refer to the makeup of the community. Yes, Living ArtsEngine members come from all over the university, but our commitment to interdisciplinary learning stretches ever farther than that. Our students aren’t content to operate within the bounds of a major; they find excitement in the spaces where crossover takes place. We believe that when disciplines converge, magic happens. What do you get when engineers team up with musicians? When visual artists and dancers join forces? We’re here to find out.


At first glance, being “disruptive” might not seem like something to showcase. But we don’t mean “disruptive” as in disorderly or chaotic; we mean that we’re interested in radical change and innovation. We break boundaries and shake up the status quo. It’s out-of-the-box thinking – if the box was torn up and turned into a robot. Or a sculpture. Or a spaceship (you see where we’re going with this).


A large focus of Living ArtsEngine is making. Students have endless opportunities to create, both with physical materials and through digital means. We aren’t afraid to be hands-on during the building process, working with solders, glue guns, spray paint, power drills, arduino boards, and more. Students have access to a large supply closet full of materials, a 3D printer, and a lounge space complete with enough tools and tables to be a functional workshop.


None of this making truly happens alone; students are grouped into project teams to encourage cooperative teamwork and iteration. Even outside of our scheduled making events, students naturally gravitate together to brainstorm and build on their own time.


Living ArtsEngine challenges students to think bigger and more deeply. With an emphasis on the creative process, students are bolstered to approach problem-solving from many angles and to consider that the best ideas may go through many stages of development. We put these methods to the test through the “Introduction to Creative Process” course, our monthly all-community meetings, and a semester-long collaborative creative project.


In addition to enriching the college experience, Living ArtsEngine primes students for a successful professional life. The collaborative, communicative, and entrepreneurial skills at the center of our program are essential parts of post-grad careers. Living ArtsEngine gives students a solid foundation in these areas, allowing them to navigate the workforce with adaptability and ingenuity. 


Finally, when you leave Living ArtsEngine, the experiences never really leave you. There’s a saying popular among alumni: “Once Living ArtsEngine, always Living ArtsEngine.” We have a passionate alumni network that serves as an excellent resource for current students and a great way to learn more about opportunities outside the university. This year is Living ArtsEngine’s 10th anniversary and we’re excited to keep growing our community!


Here’s what students have to say about their experience in Living ArtsEngine:


“Being a part of Living ArtsEngine really helped me find my niche at U-M – and I’ve learned so much about my own creative process. Plus I gained some of the best friendships I could ask for from this amazing group of diversely talented people. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had!”

-Erin Schimmel, College of Engineering

“Living ArtsEngine helped me find my place in the university very quickly, and I found a great group of friends who were as passionate about making art in all the different forms and ways I was. Thinking about the creative process helped me examine my music making, and continues to inform how I approach the musical process. I’m so glad I joined this community.”

-Allison Thabit, School of Music, Theatre and Dance


"Living ArtsEngine has provided me with a strong community from day one, and exposed me to people with diverse creative interests and talents. Through Living Arts, I've had the opportunity to make unforgettable memories with the friends I live and learn with. It has absolutely been my favorite part of coming to Michigan!"

-Mitchell Lawrence, College of Architecture


“Living ArtsEngine was an incredible experience. It was amazing to live and work with so many dedicated, creative students who were always cooking up new projects (or helping me tackle mine!). On top of that, the MLC introduced me to my closest friends at the university. It was the best part of my experience at Michigan!” 

-Stephanie Sim, Art & Design Major, Class of 2019



Living ArtsEngine Staff