New statue honors women in engineering

5/2/2017 1:59:43 PM

A statue celebrating women in engineering was recently installed on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. The statue, positioned across from Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory in front of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, was unveiled by College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris on Friday, April 28, 2017.

Dean Cangellaris unveils The Quintessential Engineer statue
Dean Cangellaris unveils The Quintessential Engineer statue
Installation of the statue — title “Quintessential Engineer” — was the culmination of four years of effort, begun by Sakshi Srivastava, then an undergraduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Srivastava felt that public art representing women in the field was a way to encourage and inspire female students. With approval from the Academic Senate, a student committee and administrative committee began working together to make the statue a reality. In 2015, Texas Instruments Inc. committed the necessary funds for creation of the statue.

In her remarks at the unveiling ceremony, Civil and Environmental Engineering alumna Angie Wolters (BS 99, MS 00), Associate Director of the College of Engineering’s Women in Engineering program, said that the value of the statue is priceless.

“To some this might sound trite, but it conveys its immeasurable value,” she said. “For our women alums, the statue symbolizes the value of their efforts to earn their degrees and acknowledges the impacts they have made in using their engineering skills to better the world. For our current women students and faculty, the statue represents how our community values their goals and supports their place here in engineering.  And for our future women engineers – from the high school students that join us for engineering summer camps to the young girls that visit during Engineering Open House – seeing someone like themselves represented as the Quintessential Engineer is inspirational.”

The statue was created by Chicago sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, who described the design:

“The face, the expression is one of wonder, exploration, and knowledge, one of curiosity and perseverance. She represents a multi-racial female, a young professional woman at work… always thinking, on the move.

“I used the hexagon shape in the granite base for it is a repeated form in the natural world; it is ‘precision engineering in nature,’ similar to our DNA, honeycombs, snowflakes, bubble rafts, carbon, etc. The shapes are turning and morphing into circuit boards, next into books, then into folds of her pants. She holds an IPad, manipulating a flexible screen of the future. The image is one of waves—it could be sound waves, water waves, light waves, and wave particles, interstellar communication, radar satellite… it’s up to the viewer’s imagination.

“This piece is meant to engage the University’s students, faculty, and visitors. It reflects the era in which she is from. It is about the engineer’s journey. There is space for the observer to interpret what will be in her future; it allows for mystery and engagement.”