Ann-Perry Witmer has followed a curious path through life, ultimately coming to engineering in midlife when she enrolled in the University of Illinois’ College of Engineering after a successful career in newspapering. After graduating with honors and becoming the first civil engineering major ever to win the prestigious Harvey Jordan Award from the College of Engineering, she became a practicing professional engineer in Wisconsin, designing water systems for communities throughout the Midwest.
She also helped to create organizations that work directly with communities in Central America and the Caribbean to provide engineering assistance for disadvantaged communities in need of safe, sustainable drinking water.
Ann now teaches freshman engineering electives as well as engineering service design courses at the university, and she is faculty advisor to Engineers Without Borders-UIUC and AWWA/WEF. Her service travels have taken her to Central America, Africa, Asia and South America, where she’s developed a deep understanding of the relationship between technical and social considerations that must be co-evaluated for communities in need. This global perspective has informed her engineering approach domestically by incorporating a collaborative, holistic understanding of the client’s needs and expectations to produce a durable, sustainable infrastructure.
In addition to her engineering degree from the University of Illinois, Ann also holds degrees in journalism and art history magna cum laude from Boston University. She is currently pursuing a novel graduate degree in engineering that investigates the relationship between technical design and non-engineering considerations like politics, culture and economics.