March 14, 2014

What do aerial silks and engineering have in common? According to environmental engineering junior Kristin Kendrick, the unique connection complements both interests.

“Concepts I have learned in many of my engineering courses are brought to life with every silks performance,” Kendrick said. “Being an engineer doesn’t necessarily help me perform, however, it does help me to understand what I am actually doing while practicing.”

Aerial silks is a performance in which artists suspend and swing through the air on strong fabrics suspended from the ceiling. Kendrick enrolled in the University’s aerial silks class semesters ago, and has “taken the class every semester since.”

Kendrick applies concepts learned in class to the silks. For example, some movements are easier to perform the higher up she climbs because of applied tension. She knows to curl into a ball to spin faster because of angular momentum theories.

“[College of Music & Dramatic Arts Associate Professor] Nick Erickson made comparisons between aerial silks and engineering related topics a number of times in class,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick acknowledged she was intimidated by the silks at first, but now finds it beautiful and fun.

“I got more and more intrigued by the art and fell in love with it. I liked it even more when I realized I was improving along with gaining strength and performance skills,” she said.

Kendrick’s passion about environmental issues steered her toward an engineering major. She recently researched with Dr. John Pardue, professor and undergraduate program coordinator in environmental engineering, over the summer on “Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons from MC252 Crude Oil on Spartina alterniflora leaves.”

“I have always been interested in the quality of the environment,” Kendrick said. “With this research, I was able to learn more about the effects of the gulf oil spill on the marine environment and got to travel to Fourchon Beach to help collect samples. I was able to learn, have fun and get hands-on environmental engineering experience all in one.”

“I am an engineering aerialist, and LSU is one of the only places to be able to do that.”


Article by Danielle Kelley, LSU College of Engineering communications intern. Photos by Laura Juengling, LSU College of Engineering Communications Coordinator.

For more information, contact Mimi LaValle, College of Engineering, or (225) 578-5706.


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