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Cover of the 2006 Annual Report
2006
Annual Report

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Cover of the 2006 College Directory
2006
College Directory

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PAST ANNUAL REPORTS

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Steve Preston and design students for the Portals to an Architecture project

Steve Preston and design students for the “Portals to an Architecture” project. From left: Back row — Jan Augelli, Erin Main, Eric Huynh, Phillip Angart and Hsien-na Chu. Front row — Hilary Philipps, Jeff Batterman, Steve Preston, Tom Fleming and Jack Page. (Large image)

Art and engineering
entwined in outdoor exhibit

In August 2004, just two days before he would leave Madison to pursue his dream—a master’s degree in architecture—civil and environmental engineering student Steve Preston learned he had cancer.

Not only did the diagnosis—Hodgkin’s lymphoma—reroute his educational path, it also changed how Preston approaches each day. “I would go to bed at night and I would just cling to the hope that I’d wake up the next morning,” he says. “It was that bad. You don’t realize how precious life is, or how much you really need to get done, until you’re actually staring down that path.”

A 1999 Pewaukee (Wisconsin) High School graduate, Preston views that path—his memories, his experiences and his future—as a series of portals. “Joining all of those portals, you can create a new place to go to, and conversely, you have a place where you’ve been,” says Preston, who began cancer treatments at UW Hospital and enrolled as a master’s student in civil and environmental engineering.

Preston brought his portals to life in a series of massive paper-tube arches for his outdoor exhibit, “Portals to an Architecture,” May 1 through June 30, 2006, on the College of Engineering campus. An example of sustainable engineering, the paper arches mirrored arches he saw in a CT scan made of Preston’s head during his cancer treatments. “You have to do what makes you happy,” he says. “And you have to do things that you want to do. Something that I’ve always wanted to do is make a sculpture, and have it be visible, and have it mean something.”

Preston and several engineering undergraduates enrolled in InterEgr 160, Introduction to Engineering, constructed “Portals” during the last week in April.

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