Recent grad finds calling with historic preservation

October 9, 2013

While many engineering students are focused on building tomorrow’s most innovative buildings, Christine Beckman, who holds a B.S. in architectural engineering from CU-Boulder and an M.S. in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, has found her path working on renovations, rehabilitations or adaptive reuses for older buildings. With an interest in history and love for buildings, Beckman says that historic preservation seemed like a natural fit, and CU-Boulder was the perfect place to begin her architectural engineering education.

“CU gave me a great foundation as far as engineering goes,” Beckman says. “You start off with the basics, but then you get the chance to explore your specific interest. There are so many different facets of architectural engineering that you are exposed to, and professors encourage you to further your own studies.”

During Beckman’s time at CU-Boulder, she gained invaluable experience as an intern while working on the Inca Trail in Peru, she says. Beckman teamed up with engineers from all over the world for this reverse engineering project, which examined engineering techniques and collaboration efforts by the natives and how it can be applied to new methodologies of today. For the first time, Beckman had the chance to see her two fields collide beyond the classroom.

“It was my first exposure to having those fields really meshing, and it showed me there were possibilities out there to combine history and engineering,” Beckman says. “The global field work was a very enlightening experience. We had people representing five or six continents, and being able to connect with them was very exciting.”

Since Beckman returned from her internship, she has written a journal article about her experience for the “Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice” and now works as a design engineer for JVA, a structural and engineering firm that specializes in historic preservation in Boulder. Given her CU-Boulder education and internship, Beckman says she feels well prepared for her career.