WIA – PechaKucha Night 2016

March 2016, WIA was proud to host another successful PK night and we were all the better for having attended. For those sadly not in attendance, let me catch you up:
What is a PK Night you ask? Well, PK is an abbreviation for PechaKucha. What is a PechaKucha Night you ask? A PechaKucha  Night is full of presenters with a design presentation format where each presenter, no matter the discipline, is allowed to have 20 slides at 20 seconds each. No stopping, no going back. So for six minutes and forty seconds, the presenter gets to captivate you with a subject they really care about. The brilliance of these presentations is by end of almost seven minutes, you really do care about their subject, even if you had no interest in it before. It just happens. I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that you really should get out to a PK and experience it for yourself.
For the third year in a row the wonderful women of WIA planned an incredible line up of presenters. The night began with a look into the life of women who have participated in and lived the life of Design Build Bluff. This non-profit organization started by Hank Louis and run with the University of Utah Masters of Architecture program builds homes for families on the Navajo reservation. It gives students a hands on experience of what it takes to design and build a home for a client. The program began in 2000 and women from almost every year (over 25 women) showed up to share, for 20 seconds, what that program meant to their education and their careers.
Virginia Pearce, the Utah Film Commissioner, spoke about film being dead. With the way technology is headed and the ability of each person to create film in their own way, is the film industry on it’s way out? “I don’t even think it is sick,” stated Pearce. Film has changed greatly in the last decade, but that is what makes it so exciting. We are the future of film.
Amanda Bordelon, a civil engineer and professor in the field, says C is for concrete. She spends most of her day in a lab cooking concrete trying to help students understand what it is made of, how it works, and most importantly how and why it fails. Amanda has always had a love for how things are built and her most recent research is on smog eating concrete. Maybe with Amanda in our state, the horizon might be looking a bit more clear.
Sofia Gorder claims many titles in her life, but shared with us the roles of dancer, creator and educator, and gave PK night a first. While Sofia shared with us her thoughts on how arts and education are intertwined, her friend, Larissa, performed an interpretive dance. The two aspects combined was mesmerizing making us all consider education and how it will shape and move the future.
Lauren Barros, who is a family rights attorney, took us on a journey with a same-sex couple trying to become a family. Most people think of lawyers as not having a creative outlet, but she spoke of how being creative with the interpretation of the law is exactly how she helps couples overcome the hurdles of the government to make sure families stay together.
Curtis Miller, a student and mathematician has recently focused his research on the gender wage gap. He painted a picture of what it means specifically for Utah, which has the fourth largest wage gap in the country. With his estimates it will be 2087 before Utah can level the playing field. Curtis believes the only way out of this is to make it easier for women to obtain an education.
As we headed into intermission, Whitney Ward, the newest member of the WIA Board of Directors, shared what has been going on with WIA for the last year and told us it is a story in the making. They announced a new design challenge, Project Sunnyvale, and added three more recipients to the WIA NCARB Lottery.
Jennifer Plumb is an ER physician who shared her experience working with opioid substance addiction and the importance of using Naloxone. This is a drug used to prevent, reduce and reverse the effects of opioid abuse and is now legal in the state of Utah. With this move, lives will be saved.
Angela Dean, an architect and principle at AMD Architecture, took us on a tour of their newest project, Treasures of the Rain Forest at Tracy Aviary. She spoke of their effort to recreate the sensory experience of the rain forest, complete with rain storms, while providing a showcase piece for the aviary and creating the perfect environment for so many birds.
Luisa Whittaker-Brooks is a scientist researching nanostructural materials in hope of finding a new energy source. She is determined to find a way to use all of the wasted heat energy for good by generating electricity from our own body heat. She has a goal to figure things out in the next seven years, but with an attitude like hers I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it sooner than later.
Esther Gubbay, an architecture student, gave us a bit of life advice when she spoke of her life in other countries and cultures. She said our differences are what unite us and we should get to know those who make us feel uncomfortable. Her outlook on life is there is value, reason and purpose in who we are and we shouldn’t be afraid to share that with the world.
Maria Vyas, was surprised to hear so many people clap for her. As a transportation planner she doesn’t get as warm of a welcome when she talks of the only way to solve traffic congestion is to stop building more roads. We need to plan for a shorter time span and be more versatile in our transportation strategies if we ever want to see anything change.
To end the evening, we spent a few moments with the great Pat Bagley, the editorial cartoonist for the Salt Lake Tribune. He shared with us a history of editorial cartoons in Utah, pointing out many of the quirks that make this state what it is. And who better to present to than a PK audience. There is no doubt of the love for Salt Lake in that room.
The lineup was perfect, the presentations were on point and we each walked away having learned something new. I can only say one thing, WIA please don’t ever stop hosting PK nights!

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