A Very Fond Farewell

Unlike Tolkien’s Baggins, I am nowhere near 111 years old, nor will I vanish into thin air. But like Bilbo, the time has come for me to take leave of my community, the SWE community.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, there comes a moment when the character Bilbo Baggins, celebrating his 111th birthday, says goodbye to his well-wishers. With dramatic flair and to the astonishment of his many relatives and guests, he bids them “a very fond farewell” and seemingly disappears into thin air.

Unlike Tolkien’s Baggins, I am nowhere near 111 years old, nor will I vanish into thin air. But like Bilbo, the time has come for me to take leave of my community, the SWE community. I do so with great appreciation for the people I have worked with over these many years while producing the magazine and working on related projects in support of SWE’s mission. It is a mission that has been gratifying to embrace, and I have been proud to tell the story of SWE’s 73-year history in the pages of this magazine and, in more recent years, through the podcast series “SWE Stories: Tales from the Archives” that SWE Archivist Troy Eller English and I have hosted.

I very much want to express my deep gratitude to my editorial and creative team, beginning with SWE Senior Editor Carol Polakowski, whose diligence, insight, and friendship have been indispensable to me. I want to thank Associate Editor Marsha Lynn Bragg, Art Director JoAnn Dickey, and our contributing writers. I also want to thank the many people who, in earlier years and decades, played a significant role in the evolution of the magazine. I deeply appreciate the hours of brainstorming ideas and potential articles with editorial board members. I am grateful to the sales team and entire SWE headquarters staff and board of directors for their ongoing support, along with the many SWE members I have had the good fortune to engage with. I thank them all. And I especially thank you, our readers.

In the remaining few weeks that I will be with SWE, we will make the transition to a new, capable team that will steer the magazine toward the future based on the solid work of the past. I am proud that the past includes many significant APEX and FOLIO magazine awards, and I am grateful for the positive reception the magazine has received from women engineers worldwide.

With this issue, I leave you with a mix of articles that I believe will extend the tradition of the best of SWE’s content over the years, from the visual feast in Seabright McCabe’s lead story, “Light and STEM: A Radiant Combination,” to the up-to-date information in Sandra Guy’s “Robot Use: New Possibilities and Challenges,” to Marc Lefkowitz’s focus on sustainability in “A Circular Economy to Mitigate Long-Standing Drought.”

As in every spring issue, the “Women Engineers You Should Know” series provides a rich tapestry showcasing the lives and contributions of diverse women engineers in various career stages and disciplines. SWE contributor Christine Coolick has done an admirable job of bringing their stories to life.

Lastly and significantly, a special section by Troy Eller English, “What’s Past Is Prologue: The Future Is Ours to Write,” provides insight into key moments of SWE’s history of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rather than a simple look back, the article is instructive, offering a road map and vision from which to address current and future societal issues that may impact women engineers generally and women specifically.

Over the years, I have edited the farewell columns of many past SWE presidents. Among their varied remarks, I have observed that rather than sadness at the close of an era, their consistent theme has been appreciation for the experience. Echoing those sentiments, I wish all of you the very best.

Anne Perusek
Director of Editorial & Publications
(she, her)