Right around now, most colleges and universities are on winter break. Students look forward to a much-needed and well-deserved rest from classes. However, winter break is also an excellent opportunity to focus on some of the things that you don’t have much time for when school is in session, like applying for scholarships, internships, grad school, etc. In this post, I’ll briefly discuss some of the options for how to use your winter break effectively.
Scholarships – Make sure to apply for SWE scholarships if you will be a sophomore through PhD level in 2015-2016! The deadline is February 16, 2015, and 2 letters of recommendation are required. Besides SWE, many organizations offer online scholarship applications, including most universities and colleges.
Career – If you have not yet accepted an internship, co-op, or full-time position for the near future, don’t fret! Break is a great time to apply online to more companies and to focus on creating a plan for recruiting events in the spring. Don’t forget to check out SWE’s Career Center to share your resume with employers and search through available job postings. You may also consider looking for a summer research position, or an REU program. Some examples are advertised on our Career & Scholarship Opportunities page.
Grad School – If you are planning on applying to graduate schools, winter break can be a good time to keep working on those tedious applications, depending on the application deadlines. If grad school applications may be in your future, you could practice or study for the GRE, MCAT, or GMAT during break as well.
There are many other opportunities besides these options. For example: Watch SWE webinars to develop your professional and personal skills. Study for the FE exam. Earn an online certificate, such as the safety certificate through Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE). Learn about something that interests you.
Above all else, during your break make sure to spend quality time with family and friends, catch up on sleep, and enjoy the holidays!
Registration for this year’s SWE Region H Conference is live! The conference will be taking place at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on March 6 and 7, 2015. Register here by January 1, 2015. This year there is a two-part registration. Starting in late-January, registered attendees may select their breakout sessions and tours. Information on pricing can also be found at the registration link.
The conference theme is Bringing the Brains and Beauty to Engineering. The tentative agenda can be found here. The breakout sessions will be held in DeBartolo Hall and will include various topics on professional development, graduate school, SWE opportunities, and Notre Dame. Friday night’s entertainment will be Zumba, a photo booth, and DIY mani pedis, with refreshments including a dinner buffet and snacks. Saturday night’s entertainment will be Taste of South Bend and ice skating at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Hope to see you all there!
The SWE FY15 Senate – with all 32 professional and collegiate members in attendance – met during the annual conference on October 25, 2014. Diane LaFortune, SWE Senate Secretary, did a great job summarizing the meeting in the minutes, but here are a few highlights:
SWE re-branding efforts continue. This is something for sections to keep in mind as they design and/or order merchandise. Sections may want to hold off until around March if they want to use the updated brand.
Diversity and Inclusion Knowledge Cards have been developed through collaboration between the Society of Women Engineers and ARUP. Each card revolves around a key aspect of identifying the unconscious biases in the engineering industry, academia, and government in North America. The intention of these cards is to act as a catalyst for discussion and reflection. They are available for purchase through the SWE Store.
The Strategic Initiatives Committee (formerly known as the Mega Issues Committee) “…performs necessary research and develops white papers to facilitate the society’s dialogue on strategic initiatives that align with the society’s strategic goals.” To make sure it focuses on issues that interest you most, its members want to hear from you. The idea submission form can be accessed here.
Michigan Tech’s SWE chapter has come a long way over the past few years. Our membership and involvement on campus seems to have skyrocketed. To kick this year off, we started a brand new charity fundraiser during Homecoming, SWEat Homecoming Spirit Sprint 5k. This was a great success, we raised over $700 for the local domestic abuse shelter, Barbara Gundlach Kettle Shelter. We hope to continue this as a Homecoming tradition and attract more people and raise more money for local charities!
Speaking of on campus activities, every fall we put on Evening with Industry the night before the Fall Career Fair. We host this event for ALL students on campus! This gives them an opportunity to network with industry recruiters before the career fair the following day. This allows people to make a stronger connection with recruiters by having time to talk and get to know one another over a delicious dinner provided by Michigan Tech dining services.
The Michigan Tech section was able to sponsor 17 members to attend WE14 in Los Angeles this year! This was the largest number the section has been able to sponsor, and we hope to continue to grow the sponsorship level in order to send more members! Our section received a lot of recognition too! Our section counselor, Britta Jost received the Distinguished New Engineer Award. Our alumni, Dr. Kaitlyn Bunker received the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award. Elizabeth Wohlford was awarded second place in the Undergraduate Collegiate Poster Competition. Kathrine Cipriano and Samantha Kallman, our section president, both were accepted and chosen to participate in the Collegiate Leadership Institute. Both Dr. Gretchen Hein and Dr. Bunker organized and spoke at workshops.
In terms of outreach, we have been having a lot of fun. The section hosted a day at Michigan Tech for all the Girl Scouts in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin. We had a much bigger turnout than ever expected, with over 60 girls in attendance! We had a whole day of great activities that introduced and promoted science, technology, engineering, and math fields. It was so much fun to see all the girls excited about team based design projects and watching them brainstorm to make such great ideas.
We could not be successful as a section without spending time together and getting to know all the new members! Thanks to our advisor, Gretchen Hein, we were able to have an incredible social: pressing fresh cider at her farm! It was a blast seeing her farm and meeting all of her different animals. And the best part was everyone got to take home some fresh cider!
To wrap it up, Michigan Tech’s SWE Chapter has had a fantastic semester! We hope this gives you a little better idea as to what we’re up to here in the Great White North. We will miss having you all visit again for the Region H conference, but I’m sure you’ll be happy not to deal with as much snow! We are all looking forward to seeing you all again at this year’s Region H conference at Notre Dame!
Have you recovered from WE14 yet? It was a whirlwind of excitement in sunny Los Angeles uniting more than 8,300 women engineers and scientists from across the globe. Whether you roamed the career fair, volunteered at Invent It, Build It!, participated in workshop sessions or engaged in keynote speaker celebrations, I hope you had an enriching experience. I truly benefitted from the diversity of thought present at the conference and know that I’ve grown professionally, philanthropically and socially in a mere few days. I’ve already marked Oct. 22-24, 2015 on my calendar for WE15 in Nashville, TN!
The holidays are coming up, so in the spirit of giving, your challenge this month is to share your passion for engineering with at least 10 people. Need some ideas?
Take the momentum built up at WE14 and keep it going by imparting any insights you’ve gained to your local section or region. For example, host a best practice sharing roundtable, lead an outreach session or conduct a speed networking event.
Check out exclusive homegrown content in SWE Magazine (download the app or read issues online here).
Chat with loved ones around the dinner table during family and friend gatherings. In particular, inspire the younger crew to engage in STEM activities such as math and science classes or extracurricular opportunities.
Discover words of inspiration and insight from fellow engineers in SWE’s thought-provoking eBook Be That Engineerand share them with your colleagues.
Let me know how you express your enthusiasm for engineering!
Outreach is one of SWE’s most important activities. SWE outreach programs inspire the next generation of women engineers and technologists. We expose young girls (K-12) to the possibilities of STEM career paths with engaging workshops and interaction with SWE role models. Here are a few things to consider when planning your section’s outreach activities:
Whenever possible, include activities that allow the students to solve problems, work with their hands, and interact with their peers. Need ideas about what fun engineering activities to include? Here are some resources to start you thinking:
Throughout the outreach activity, incorporate messages that positively portray engineering and its importance. The following messages have been shown to be the most useful in interesting kids, especially females, in engineering.
Engineers are creative problem-solvers
Engineers make a world of difference
Engineering is essential to our health, happiness, and safety
Parents can play an important role in encouraging their children to pursue engineering careers. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign addresses this aspect at an annual outreach event called Mommy, Me, & SWE. During one portion of the event, the girls work on a design challenge while the parents meet in another room with a few event organizers. The parents have an interactive discussion about what they can do to encourage their children’s interest in engineering. Especially for the parents who do not work as engineers or are not very knowledgeable about STEM fields, the discussion is very helpful.
Be Role Models
Research shows that role models are important for expanding career options and exposing girls to STEM careers. While most young children – girls and boys – say that they like science, differences in confidence and interest in STEM begin emerging in middle school. Role models can help change this trend. It’s important to have volunteers helping at your outreach events who are enthusiastic about engineering, willing to engage the girls, and present a positive attitude. Need more volunteers? SWE has collaborative partnerships with the National Girls Collaborative Project and Fabfems. More details here.
If you are an undergraduate student in your 3rd, 4th, or 5th year of school, consider applying for the New Faces of Engineering Award, College Edition! SWE members are now eligible and encouraged to apply. Showcase the diverse work that you do during your college career! The application is currently available and the deadline is November 14, 2014. Checkout their Facebook page for more information (search: New Faces of Engineering College Edition). No letters of recommendation are needed and you just need to answer a few questions about your school and your plans in engineering for the future!