Statue honoring women in engineering to be dedicated Friday, April 28

4/19/2017 College of Engineering

"The Quintessential Engineer," a new, life-sized statue honoring women in engineering, was created by Chicago sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Amrany.

Written by College of Engineering

On Friday, April 28, the College of Engineering will dedicate a statue honoring women in engineering. The ceremony will take place at 2:15 p.m. on the east side of the Micro + Nanotechnology Laboratory (208 North Wright St., Urbana) on the north Engineering Quad. A reception in MNTL Lobby will follow the dedication ceremony.

“The new statue celebrates women engineers and their contributions to bettering our world through engineering,” explained Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering. “For the past several years, Engineering at Illinois has worked hard to increase the diversity of both our students and faculty, especially the number of women who chose engineering as their profession. We very much appreciate this gift from Texas Instruments as it reflects their interest and support for these efforts.”

Sakshi Srivastava
Sakshi Srivastava

“Even though universities and the industry have made progress to attract more women to engineering careers, the fact is that engineering remains a male-dominated profession,” said Peter Balyta, PhD, president of TI Education Technology and vice president of academic engagements and corporate citizenship. “Engineers are problem solvers, and problem solving requires diverse thinking represented by different world views, including gender diversity. It’s TI’s hope that this statue will inspire current and future female university students to make a natural connection between their talents and their career aspirations and that they will choose engineering.” 

Sakshi Srivastava was a senior in electrical engineering when she started the movement behind the project.

“I stumbled across an article about how public art conveys the sentiments of a community,” Srivastava said. “I realized that having a statue erected can show our commitment to younger students that we endorse their dreams.”

An international student from Allahabad, India, Srivastava created an online petition and helped develop resolutions that were supported by the Illinois Student Senate and Academic Senate. Those resolutions asked the College of Engineering to create a committee to explore possible locations and candidates for a statue. She is pleased with TI’s support of the project, and sees it as a validation of the time she had invested since June 2013 to make the statue a reality.

Entitled “The Quintessential Engineer,” the statue was created by Chicago sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, who described her motivation for 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.

“The Quintessential Engineer” reflects Rotblatt-Amrany philosophy as well.

“After many years of formal education and creative productivity, my personal artistic vision has come to strongly embrace the combination of spiritual and physical elements …the mind-body connection. I’m interested in emotional intelligence, higher consciousness, genetic engineering, medical and spiritual healing,” she said. “I believe this vision is reflected in the way we work individually and collaborate. I believe we are giving something hopeful and energizing back, as we explore the lives of heroic figures and hold up parts of their human and soulful experience that can inspire others.

“As a female artist I can honestly say that 90% of the figures that I do sculpt are men, this needs to change so that woman can be empowered through their work world,” she added. “Young woman need to have icons to look up to as well. The scales seem to be unbalanced; we are late in equalizing the paradigm shift. I was so pleased to be chosen as the artist for this project, it really means a lot to me.”

Previously, Julie Rotblatt-Amrany has developed a number of well-known statues, including Michael Jordan (with her husband, Omri Amrany) and Scottie Pippen statues housed at the United Center in Chicago and a bas relief bronze of Abraham Lincoln that resides in the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Her commissioned sculptures are at venues around the world—from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, to the Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame, from Shanghai, China, to Purdue University and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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This story was published April 19, 2017.