SWE’s conference and yearlong theme is “Let’s Break Boundaries.” With this in mind, SWE Magazine looks at a spectrum of individual and collective experiences and actions that can be viewed as part of this larger encouragement to make breakthroughs personally and collectively.
A boundary is understood to be a border or a limit. Much like barriers, boundaries keep “things” contained; in doing so, some “things” remain inside and others out. For many aspects of life, this is helpful. But when the “things” being kept out aren’t things at all, but instead are people constrained by institutional biases and prejudice, the boundaries don’t serve us well and should be challenged. When it comes to expressions of civil rights and human potential, we must agree that in order to create a better world together, certain boundaries must be broken.
Our cover story on livable cities illustrates the components of the most desirable cities, including our conference host city, Minneapolis. Frequently ranked as a top location, in Minneapolis the essential ingredients of livability fall under the jurisdiction of Lisa Cerney, P.E., city engineer and deputy director of public works. You’ll want to read Cerney’s insights as well as the perspectives of Pamela Mühlmann, Ph.D., senior expert at the Smart City Vienna Agency. Her city, Vienna, Austria, was recently named the world’s most livable city by the rigorousEconomist Intelligence Unit’s annual ranking of 140 cities worldwide. Both women are in key roles. While the societal boundaries that in the past would have prevented them from holding such positions have not disappeared entirely, they have certainly dissipated.
For fun, our feature story “Fantastic Journeys” looks at theme parks and the creative collaborations between engineers and teams of artists, designers, writers, performers, and technicians, working with the goal of building an immersive experience. Central to the story is the expertise shared by Rachel Hutter, P.E., senior vice president of international facilities and operations services, worldwide safety and health, and engineering for The Walt Disney Company. Hutter is another example of societal boundaries being broken.
Our third feature, “Meet Engineering Plus: the New Design-Based Model for Undergraduate Engineering Education,”
is a close-up look at the development of a promising new degree program launched at the University of Colorado Boulder, with the intention of replication by other universities. The chief developer and proponent of the program, Jacquelyn Sullivan, Ph.D., discusses the process, intent, and results of the program thus far. Beyond that, she also conveys the passion and motivation behind her efforts to “democratize engineering education,” to make it more accessible to people who might otherwise be left behind. She is yet another example of breaking boundaries.
Sometimes, however, the boundaries that hold one back are internal, or a combination of internal and external forces that seem to conspire against our best intentions to move our lives forward. Fortunately, at WE18 and in the pages of this magazine, there are many examples of women breaking through. Our profiles of this year’s award recipients offer inspiration and food for thought. And if you are attending the conference this year, you won’t want to miss Friday night’s post-awards party, following the awards banquet, for a chance to meet and mingle with this accomplished group of women.