Lucas Picciano: Miami as Text 2023

Lucas at Merrick Park by Liu Sedova // CC by 4.0


Lucas Picciano is a Student of FIU’s Honors college. He is currently on the Fluid Mechanics track of his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. He hopes complete the FE exam and get his certification. He wants to continue studies in fire science, furthering research in Fire protection engineering. He hope his work will not only provide more protection for everyday people, but also to help protect firefighters more, and hopefully elongate their predicted life expectancies after retirement.

Spring Encounter As Text

“Put Down The Calculator”

by Lucas Picciano of FIU on the first week of class

It’s been a long time since the required reading for one of my classes wasn’t a textbook on physics or fluid mechanics, and I find that quite intimidating. I joined this class because in my studies of math and science, trying to find the reasons for why the machines and systems we make are the way they are. But I don’t think I have given enough thought to the people and minds behind them. As I learn more about my discipline, I realize more that it isn’t just about math and science and complicated differential equations. I feel I’ve neglected the role that things like culture and war play in why we create the things we do as engineers, and more broadly as individuals.

When I Was younger, I used to really hate my language arts classes and history classes because they were the hardest classes for me at the time. I hated reading the books I was assigned, so I felt like reading was just not for me. I couldn’t succeed and I felt inadequate, which led to me resenting all things humanities. Math and sciences felt straightforward, and it was just easier for me to understand, and so I felt comfortable in those classes. Because of how comfortable I felt compared to English and history, I would try to avoid anything that wasn’t STEM throughout my early education by any means necessary. Like taking the highest-level options for mandatory writing classes, that way I could test out of taking them again in college to free up my schedule for more science classes. I made it a life mission to stay as far away from assigned reading and essays as possible.

Now at 21 years young, with 2020 hindsight and 1 ADHD diagnosis later, I look back on those moments in class and recognize where I went wrong. I realized my hatred of reading was manifested because I couldn’t read the books I was given, but I didn’t know it was because it is much more difficult for me to feel motivated to read subjects or stories that don’t stimulate me. I wish I could go back and stop myself from shutting out years of education, but I don’t think any places offer a class for that. So, I thought the best thing I thought I could do would be to try again now, with a new set of tools to help me where I fall short and a much more open mind.

 I figured this would be a perfect class to take since it hits all the things I previously checked out of. I have an opportunity to learn about history and culture, but from another country. There’s a comfortable amount of reading a media that I need to go through. Personal and creative writing. And on top of that, I will experience what I’m learning first-hand. 

I’ve never been to France. The image that comes to mind is unfortunately based on stereotypical depictions of rude, cigarette swallowing, people who don’t shave. But I also know that my ideas and perceptions aren’t very true to France and come from American media and pop culture. But I know that France has beautiful landscapes and delicious foods, and I know nothing about them. I know they are known for fresh delicious food and drinks, but I’ve only had French fries and onion soup. But that makes me so excited, because I know that there’s so much more that I don’t know. I want to know more about the ties that it has to my own culture here, like the huge French influence on American values, like personal freedom and human rights. I want to know more about the minds of the French people who fight for my freedoms. And I’m hoping that in this class I can remove that caricature of France form my head and learn more about its actual culture and history and try to get a deeper understanding and connection to it. 

The places I’m most excited to visit are probably Bayeux and Fontainebleau. I love to hike, and I love natural landscapes, so being able to finally go to a higher elevation and see the European scenery is exciting to look forward to. I’m also excited to experience real food outside of the US. I’ve heard a lot about how European countries have more natural food than in the US, but I really want to see the culture not only around but within the bakeries and cafes. The thought of people coming together to share the fruits of their country and having that authentic food, and the communal culture behind it, it reminds me of ventanitas here.  

All in all, I’m eager to explore something I’ve never really known about. And I’m eager to see how something, that feels so far away and unknown to me, has and continues to shape my culture, my studies, and my perspective.

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