Author: Caitlin Coverstone
We often think of engineers working out in the field or in a non-descript office, but some actually work in a place like the National Academies. Imagine a building where the stairwell is modeled after a helix, where mathematical equations are etched in the foundation, and where an image of Einstein is superimposed in a masterful mural depicting the inter-connectedness of our world. This is the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington D.C. What is truly spectacular about the Keck Center is what takes place inside. Great scientific minds convene to solve critical world problems and improve people’s lives.
As a former, EngineerGirl Essay Contest winner, I was excited to visit the Keck Center on a family trip to the Washington, DC area. This is where the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is located and the staff that run the EngineerGirl website have their offices. On the day of my visit, an international interdisciplinary team was working on innovative solutions for providing clean water. Also, I had the privilege of meeting engineers and other staff who gave me a warm welcome and shared a genuine enthusiasm for the profession of engineering. From the foundation etched with mathematical formulas to the innovative people that I met, the Keck Center reflects the spirit of scientific inquiry and possibility. It is truly an awesome place!
After my visit to the Keck Center, I traveled to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Building on Constitution Avenue. The NAS and the NAE are sister organizations that operate under the same charter established by Abraham Lincoln. The front corner of the grounds is home to the Einstein Memorial. It was impossible to pass up a photo opportunity with the twelve foot, bronze sculpture of the famous scientist. While exploring the rotunda of the NAS building, I had the unique privilege of meeting the Honorable Dr. Anita Jones, University Professor Emerita and Member of the NAE. Her words summed up a day that I will always treasure. She shared with me that the best way to help people is to be an engineer. It seemed like her advice was meant to echo beyond the National Academies’ rotunda for all EngineerGirls to hear.