AS an Indonesian girl in an American high school, Dr Yoda Patta looked upon maths as a ‘language’ in which she could comfortably communicate.
Her continuing interest in maths and science led to a a PhD in materials engineering at MIT and has made her a role model for girls looking to pursue a career in the STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths/Medicine.
But the young academic, in Newcastle to deliver a public lecture at the University of Newcastle on Tuesday as a President’s Visiting Fellow, is an equally enthusiastic advocate for adding an ‘A’ for ‘Arts’ to that well-known acronym.
“Studying arts and design can help you achieve scientific objectives,” she said. “Adding different perspective and ways of looking at the world is a very good thing.
“There is one example of a computer science team that were scratching their heads over a particular coding problem, and the person who ended up solving it was a pianist. Because she saw the code as musical notes, she figured out a way to work around a very complicated code that the other members of the team couldn’t see.”
Dr Patta said parents and educators had a significant role to play in breaking down preconceived ideas about the division between arts and science and encouraging students to pursue a multidisciplinary approach to their studies and research projects.
Dr Patta is the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Sampoerna University, in Indonesia. She will present her lecture at 10am on Tuesday in the Hunter Building HB13 Lecture Theatre on the university campus.