DA music grad Adam Jones built an engineering career on creativity and questioning
Dr. Jackie Cornelius, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts principal, believes the most important question successful people ask is, “How can we do things differently?” This is what Picasso asked as he approached his canvas ready to paint ordinary things in a new way, she says. And she is quick to cite Daniel Pink’s best-seller of the 2000s, A Whole New Mind, which posits that just as we moved from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, we have now moved into the Conceptual Age, where “right-brainers will rule the future.”
Adam Jones graduated from DA in 1995 as a music major, having studied and played trombone and tuba. Fast forward twenty years and you’ll find him at his newly-founded LLC, Azure Sky Group, where he has obtained a patent on utilizing radio frequency identification technology mounted on a rotary-wing UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, commonly known as a drone) to monitor material goods in warehouses and depots.
The bridge from high school musician to a technology and engineering career that includes winning SmartCEO magazine’s COO of the Year award, lies in his arts education, Jones says. Bringing the right brain into careers traditionally associated with the left brain is what CEOs credit for their success, says Jones. “I can think of many instances professionally where a creative leap was necessary to solve a critical situation.”
Jones’s experience at DA was marked by intensive music study and advanced placement college-level courses. “I wouldn’t trade the [DA] experience for anything – it enabled me to explore both the intellectual and creative aspects of my interests,” he says. Jones’s family is tied to DA by way of his mother teaching there and his siblings also attending the school. He shares that he attended summer music classes so that he could take more academic courses during the school year and fulfill his academic and arts requirements. “It was difficult but worth it.”
From there, Jones graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in American Government, thinking he might pursue a career in law. He started out at UVA as a music major, but found that at the time their program was more focused on theory and analysis and he enjoyed performing. “DA provided a superb education in musical performance,” he says. “I walked into the next level of education playing at a high enough level to join any of the on-campus ensembles I cared to.” Consequently, while at UVA, he performed with the Jazz Ensemble, the Virginia Swing Jazz Orchestra, the Charlottesville and University Orchestra, the Early Music Ensemble, and other groups as well as in theater productions. “My final year there I played in a big band with Pat Metheny at a jazz festival where the headliner was Herbie Hancock,” he recalls proudly.
Jones feels that being educated and involved in the arts provided intangible benefits during college, as well. “I would suggest that the socialization that the arts provide give both improved interaction with others as well as a place of solace when things are tough,” he says. “The arts can be very comforting in challenging environments.”
Written by Meredith T. Matthews