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This student has big IDEAS

Casey Rule, singing here with the Melismatics, Lehigh's oldest mixed a cappella ensemble, pursues his passions for music and computer science in the IDEAS program.

When Casey Rule ’11 walks into a job interview, he tells prospective employers about his university experience in a simple way.

“I tell them I have a B.S. degree in IDEAS,” Rule said. “That always gets a laugh, and I think it helps them remember me. Then I explain what the program is actually about, and you can tell immediately that they’re interested.”

During his time at Lehigh, Rule was able to pursue his two passions—music and computer science—by enrolling in the Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) program.

Administered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the four-year honors program allows students to get a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in both colleges.

Growing up, Rule was always interested in a multitude of fields.

“I wasn’t one of those kids who always knew what job he wanted since the age of five,” Rule said. “I wanted to do everything, and honestly I still do. The IDEAS program definitely appealed to me. It isn’t focused so much on specific concentrations but rather on different ways of thinking and how to integrate those ways of thinking.”

Creative engineers, analytical musicians

With help from IDEAS advisers in both colleges, Rule built a program of study that allowed him to gain depth and breadth in fields as diverse as music composition and computer engineering. But it wasn’t as simple as pursuing a double major.

“It was about integrating the engineering, analytical side of thinking with the arts-and-science, creative side of thinking,” Rule said.

“Anyone in engineering can tell you that there is a lot of creativity involved, and anyone in arts and science can tell you that there is a lot of analysis and convention involved.

“I learned how to take advantage of that overlap and how to thrive in that overlap.”

The program, while rigorous, also afforded Rule the flexibility to participate in extracurricular activities—such as the Lehigh University Melismatics, the Lehigh University Choir and the Martindale Student Associates Program—that augmented the integrated courses he was taking.

A powerful tool

Now, with his IDEAS degree in hand, Rule sees a horizon full of opportunity. He is employed by Suntex, where he is helping to develop the company’s online math education program, First in Math. He is continuing to work on his IDEAS senior project, an online music program, and is thinking about pursuing a master’s degree in music composition.

One day, he hopes to combine his music and computer science backgrounds by creating music education and composition software for students.

He is confident his IDEAS degree will help him go far. 

“IDEAS represents what is happening in the world today,” Rule said. “You no longer study one field and then apply all of your knowledge toward that one isolated field. Today, employers are looking for individuals who can bring together multiple fields and utilize different ways of thinking.

“That’s what IDEAS is about. It fosters the mentality that what you’re learning in engineering classes isn’t just for engineering and what you’re learning in arts and science classes isn’t just for arts and science.

“It’s the integration that’s really powerful.”

 

Story by Adrienne Wright

Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2011

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