Perfection unattainable

By: Nathan Fordyce

Alec Bowman is a self-proclaimed perfectionist at everything he does. But he knows being perfect is unattainable.

Bowman has three loves in his life and expects to never master any of them.

“I dance, I engineer, I bake. Those are the three things in my life. And everything else is secondary,” Bowman said. “And they are all things that I actually can’t attain perfection in because they aren’t things you can attain perfection on.”

Bowman is originally from Pocatello, Idaho and is getting his master’s program at the University of Kansas in aerospace engineering with an emphasis on aircraft dynamics and controls. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Idaho in 2010.

When Bowman was seaching for an engineering master’s program, he wanted more than just a good program.

“I wanted to make sure they had a control engineering program in aerospace,” Bowman said.  “And also they had to have a competitive ballroom dance team.”

Bowman began ballroom dancing when he was a freshman at Idaho. School of Engineering Administrative Assistant, Amy Borton, used that fact to entice Bowman to come to the University.

Borton said with the expansion of the engineering program, Bowman was offered a spot on assistant professor Shahriar Keshmiri’s unmanned aerial vehicle design team. But the University’s ballroom dancing team sealed the deal for Bowman.

“Since KU has a ballroom team, we kind of used that to our advantage in luring him to come here,” Borton said.

As an engineer, Bowman thinks structurally, and admits “engineers aren’t inherently social.” But ballroom dancing forces him to be social, pushing him out of his comfort zone.

“Dancing is incredibly social. You are in contact with them for three minutes,” Bowman said. “And it’s weird if you don’t talk because you have to make those personal connections to dance well.

“But there are certain moves that you cannot do unless you have the correct technique. So that’s where the engineering side comes into play,” Bowman said.

Even outside of engineering, Bowman seeks structure. Theoretically, the left brain seeks logical and analytical processes, while the right brain longs for creativity. For Bowman, ballroom dancing is one avenue for blending the two two brains and so is baking.

“Even my creative process, I am very structured. I have a list of things I can and can’t do,” Bowman said.

Bowman’s left brain sought out a good engineering master’s program. His right brain sought a dancing venue and a good baking kitchen.

Bowman chose to live at the Aberdeen Apartments on Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive where he opened his cake business, Precision Cakes. He bakes for friends and whomever wants one, including his dance instructor Michiko Ito.

Ito said Bowman’s carrot cake with white chocolate frosting is really good and that she “could not help getting another piece,” after her first piece.

He said it was a “challenge to figure out which kitchen was the best” because he couldn’t visit and had to apartment hunt online.

Bowman started baking wedding cakes in December 2010 and during the summer he worked at a conference in Maine where he just baked cakes. It was then that he decided to learn to decorate cakes and has continued to try and perfect the art.

“In decorating there are things you can and can’t do,” he said. “For instance, buttercream and fondant is completely different. When it comes to getting buttercream smooth it is really challenging to do, but being a perfectionist, I have to get it as smooth as I possibly can.”

Since Bowman is a perfectionist, the idea of never being able to attain perfection in any of his three loves makes him want to work harder to get as close to perfect as he can.

“All you can do is practice,” Bowman said. “You can work as hard as you can and try to make it perfect but you’re never going to reach it.”

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