Piano-playing engineer wins esteemed graduate scholarship
Beginning his major in piano performance as a fine-arts student, Oosterhof transferred into the civil engineering co-op program one year later. Considered “crazy” by both his fellow musicians and engineers when he reveals his diverse background, Oosterhof says both subjects actually go hand-in-hand.
“Music needs structure to exist and creativity is essential to engineering,” says Oosterhof, adding other core subjects like art, philosophy, history, language and economics are deeply ingrained in what engineers do. ??
Building on this educational perspective, Oosterhof, currently a second-year structural engineering PhD student, was awarded one of the most celebrated graduate awards in Canada: the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship of $50,000 per year for two years. ??
“The prospect of integrating science and art to produce the physical structures all around us inspires me. People spend most of their natural lives inside of buildings,” he said. “My background in fine arts really shaped my journey into engineering.”
Oosterhof completed his undergraduate degree in 2008 and began his graduate studies in the fall that same year. As a part of his research, Oosterhof is examining why buildings fall down. More specifically, his research looks at what mechanisms are responsible for the collapse of high-rise steel structures, and how buildings can be designed to perform better under extreme loads. ??
For Oosterhof’s research program supervisor, Robert Driver, his student is one of the most proactive and meticulous graduate students he knows. ??
“He has the ability to develop a clear global vision, while at the same time attending to all the finer details,” says Driver. “Seldom is someone so successful in a technical field, while also being accomplished in the fine arts. Having a well-rounded personality and skill-set is a quality valued in a Vanier scholar.”