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Opening Thoughts: WE19 – The Start of Our 70th Anniversary Year

Marking significant milestones is not a matter of remembering a day — it is an opportunity to reflect on our shared mission and purpose, on the legacy that we inherited, and on the future we are building.
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Anne Perusek headshotIn addition to SWE’s annual conference fare, WE19 is also the kickoff of the Society’s 70th anniversary year. The Society was founded May 27, 1950, at Cooper Union’s Camp Green, located in New Jersey. Our actual birthday is months away, but marking significant milestones is not a matter of remembering a day — it is an opportunity to reflect on our shared mission and purpose, on the legacy that we inherited, and on the future we are building.

The need for diverse and inclusive STEM professions is clearer today, and in some ways easier to address, than it was in 1950, when determined women engineers swimming against the tide of the times founded the Society of Women Engineers. By contrast, today the business case for diversity has been articulated clearly, and with various levels of buy-in and acceptance among companies, institutions, and individuals. Despite this, however, data indicate that there is yet a long way to go and SWE’s work is of great importance.

This issue of the magazine contains 70th anniversary-themed material, including the feature story “Celebrating the Sun Queen,” a retrospective that pays tribute to the remarkable, groundbreaking career of SWE’s first Achievement Award recipient, solar energy pioneer Mária Theresa Telkes, Ph.D. Dr. Telkes received the award in 1952.

Additionally, “That’s What I Wanted to Do” features a soon-to-be centenarian and early SWE member, Jeanne Brodie, who sculpted a life and a career that allowed her to blend art and engineering in a remarkable way. Brodie retired at age 97, and remains active.

“SWE’s Highest Awards: A Look Back.” This comprehensive look at SWE’s robust awards program includes “vintage” photos, information on the first recipients of each award, and the rationale behind the awards — demonstrating that a key part of the Society of Women Engineers’ mission is to recognize women at all levels and career stages in the profession, publicly acknowledging their individual contributions and commitment.

Keeping contemporary issues in mind, another feature, “Women Lead Efforts to Ensure Your Vote Matters,” examines the work of female cybersleuths and experts to fight against online election attacks and misinformation.

As the conference magazine, we devote a portion of the issue to WE19 special events and highlights, and to this year’s award recipients.

Among the events at conference, there will be a photo booth with iconic images from SWE’s history, and attendees will have an opportunity to be superimposed in these scenes. As you take a moment there to connect with SWE’s past, I encourage you to also reflect on how best to continue the legacy of our dedicated, remarkable founders.

Enjoy WE19!

Anne Perusek signature

Director of Editorial & Publications
anne.perusek@swe.org


“Opening Thoughts: WE19 – The Start of Our 70th Anniversary Year” was written by Anne M. Perusek, Director of Editorial & Publications. This article appears in the 2019 Conference issue of SWE Magazine.

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