Starting Point

"Design is where science and art break even."
—Robin Mathew

When I was in middle school, I aspired to be an architect. I was fascinated by blueprints and I would continually revisit the sketch of the house my parents had built some years before. Enamored by Frank Lloyd Wright, I somehow amassed a collection of books detailing his work. And when I was sick of practicing the piano or bored with Barbie, I would sketch out one-dimensional residential floor plans. (They were fairly functional homes, although I would sometimes forget the bathroom.)

The beauty of design is that it bridges technical with creative, science with art, left brain with right brain. And the same can be said about WPI. Just look at our innovative curriculum, in which students take a humanistic approach to engineering and science. Or our musical and theatre productions, in which students find an outlet for their many talents. Or the myriad humanities projects, in which students channel their creative energy into purposeful projects. Last year, for example, Damien Kane Rigden '08 painted a beautiful portrait of the WPI campus—with panels depicting different aspects of campus life— which now hangs in the Goat's Head Restaurant.

True, design means something different to everyone and every field. But that's what has enabled us to share the stories of so many alumni, students, and faculty across a broad range of disciplines and industries in this issue of Transformations. In some way, shape, or form, each person featured in this magazine is involved in designing things— medical devices and video games, city streets and buildings, brand names, and WPI's newest major, robotics.

There's more: faculty research focuses on artificial intelligence in design and a student project in Hong Kong looks at redesigning the city's waterfront to make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing. 

In designing this edition around, well, design, we also took the opportunity to refresh the look and feel of the class notes section. After all, we couldn't let this designer issue go by without a little redesign ourselves.

Thanks for reading.

Charna Mamlok Westervelt, Editor

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