Josh Brown’s favorite possessions include a trombone, a drum set and a 2008 Lehigh diploma stating that he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering. This May, he will add another treasure: a second bachelor’s degree in jazz studies.
Like many Arts and Engineering students at Lehigh, Brown has used the AE program to delve into non-engineering interests.
Music, he says, “is not a hobby – it’s a passion.”
In his first year, Brown formed a 10-piece student funk band called J-Wok and the Pedestrians. The band is known for its blaring horns and clashing costumes – feathered hats, overalls, Lehigh sweatshirts and flashy orange suits. They have won two first-place prizes at Battle of the Bands, several gigs on campus and a monthly performance at a local bar.
Brown came to Lehigh because he could take part in music while completing a technical degree.
“I knew I was going to be an engineer,” he says. “Lehigh was the only school I looked at that had great engineering and a great music program too.”
Many student-musicians could enter music conservatories but opt for other careers, says Paul Salerni, professor and chair of Lehigh’s music department. Lehigh allows these non-music majors to participate in ensembles and choral groups.
“Of all the engineering schools in the world, except MIT, I think we offer engineers the broadest set of musical opportunities,” Salerni says.
Engineers comprise up to 50 percent of Lehigh’s active musicians. The engineering college and music department have hosted a Music-Engineering Candidates Day for students interested in music, engineering and science. Salerni says engineers and musicians share similar traits – diligence, a grasp of mathematics and the drive to create.
“Not only can you do both music and engineering, we encourage you to do both,” says Rick Weisman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who has played trumpet in Lehigh’s orchestra, mariachi band, wind ensemble, symphonic band and brass ensemble.
Brown now works part-time at Air Products and Chemicals while finishing his arts degree. He plans to be an engineer by day and a musician by night.