If you have read my previous article, you will note that the original idea of the 88 Pianists project was to create an unbreakable world record for the largest number of people playing the piano at the same time, a fitting way to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. The criterion was simple: each child had to manually operate a piano key from 7 metres away. How this was done did not matter as long as any idea was physically possible to build. The project’s purpose was to celebrate da Vinci’s work, highlighting how it has inspired engineers and designers throughout the centuries. It was designed to encourage the next generation of engineers to hold on to the creative spark that lives inside them, to show that imagination and engineering do go hand in hand. It is worth browsing through the works of da Vinci (such as his infamous Flying Machine or his Catapult) to observe that the concept of imaginative engineering was something he held very dear.
Being part of this project has inspired me. I’ve realised that I can be any type of engineer I want to be after I graduate, as long as I don’t lose sight of my creative ability and open-mindedness. And much to my surprise, this epiphany did not come from this generation’s current academics. Rather, it came from the bright-eyed and fearless enthusiasm of tomorrow’s engineers. I would advise anyone, SELA member or not, to relish any opportunity to work alongside school children. They might just surprise you.
Watch the performance online: