Welcome to the Heartland!
Hi Region H,
Welcome to the Region H blog! This is your source for SWE news in the heartland. My name is Alison Bergmann, and I am the Region H Collegiate Communications Editor (RCCE) for Fiscal Year 14 (FY14). If you have any suggestions for the blog or would like to have something posted on the blog, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a wonderful day,
Last month, I mentioned how excited I was to participate in my first Capitol Hill Day and Congressional Visit with SWE, so I wanted to share more about my experiences. I have always been interested in how public policy fits into changing the equation for STEM education and diversity in engineering, and this was an amazing opportunity to act on that interest.
In high school, civics classes required students to complete a project that would benefit the local community. I decided to base my project on the improvement of local STEM educations. I had already seen a lack of female teachers and role models in STEM, and my peers often found math and science ‘boring’ and ‘uncool.’ I knew it was important to inspire and maintain interest from a young age, so I set out to make math and science more fun and exciting to elementary school students. My personal experience told me that while hands-on experiments and demonstrations were a great way to learn and remember math and science concepts, little time went towards hands-on learning in our local classrooms. I went to work planning fun experiments that fit into the curriculum. At the same time, I started doing research on educational requirements, curricula and standardized testing. I was surprised to learn that some requirements had not been updated in over 100 years. Surely our educational needs have changed over the past hundred years. It was then that I began to realize that outreach is only half of the equation; it must go hand in hand with public policy when it comes to making an impact.
It has been eight years since my high school project, and I have continued my involvement in K-12 outreach throughout. Getting involved in public policy took a bit longer, though. I originally discounted my ability to make an impact on public policy. Most people don’t take 15 year old girls seriously, which is a problem of its own. Over time, however, I have built up my credentials, knowledge, tool kit and confidence to the point where I do expect to be taken seriously and can act as an authority on STEM education and diversity in engineering.
No matter where you are in that process, participating in Capitol Hill Day is sure to be a rewarding experience. The great thing about Capitol Hill Day is that SWE will arm you with all of the tools and knowledge you need to feel confident and able to make an impact. Before I had my congressional visits, I got to learn from more experienced people who had participated in congressional visits before, and practiced with role plays. We got to hear the perspective of representatives and their staffers, to understand what they are looking for and what difference our visits could make. I went to my first congressional meeting by myself, and after that great day of training, I definitely felt fully prepared. Afterward I went with fellow board member Jonna Gerken to meet with the CT Senators’ staff, and we had some great conversations there as well.
All of the congressional staff we met with had genuine interest in what we had to say, in our experiences and in our opinions on how to create change for the better. Every meeting was truly a conversation between both parties, not just some SWE members rattling off some facts. Though I will say that some of the facts were eye-opening for some of the staffers—it is hard to get a sense of the inequality and lack of diversity in STEM if you aren’t living it yourself. Our meetings opened the door to a continued partnership, which is exactly the hope for where Capitol Hill Day can lead. I had a great experience at my first Capitol Hill Day, and it is something that I highly recommend everyone should participate in at least once. Sharing your experiences as women in engineering and showing your support for diversity and education initiatives can make a real difference. The more policy makers hear from us, the more difference we can make. And Capitol Hill Day certainly isn’t the only way to make your voice heard, you can also make a huge difference locally. When your school system proposes getting rid of Algebra II as a required course, you are undoubtedly an authority on its value. Together, our small impacts will create big change.
FY14 Collegiate Director
Letter from the All Together SWE Newsletter
Katie works at the American Concrete Institute, an organization that supports the concrete industry, contributing to online education and professional development programs. Previously she worked for eleven years in varying roles culminating as an Engineer/Supervisor at CTLGroup, a civil engineering testing and consulting firm.
Katie has been involved in SWE since 2003. Her initial impetus for joining was at the prompting of her male manager who encouraged her to join a professional society. Her previous roles with the Chicago Regional section include 847 Circle leader, Nominating Committee Chair, President, Section Representative, Secretary, and Newsletter Editor. Currently she serves as the FY14-FY15 Region H Secretary and as one of the Detroit FY14 Section Representatives. She finds the SWE outreach and professional development events to be rewarding and inspiring.
In her non-SWE time, Katie leads fitness classes, enjoys outdoor activities, and relishes free time spent with family and friends.
Why did you apply for Region H Secretary?
I enjoy involvement in SWE at the region level to maintain connections with members from different sections. It’s a great opportunity to interact with different section leaders and hear about programs and events that they are hosting.
What does SWE mean to you?
SWE is a great organization to be involved in, there is something for everyone. Opportunities to volunteer for outreach and community events, attend professional development and networking sessions on both “soft” and technical skills, as well as, the challenges of accepting leadership roles is invaluable. SWE supports future engineers and scientists of all ages, and I am proud to be a member.
Spring is in the air with the warmer temperatures, birds chirping, and flowers starting to bloom. That means that it’s time to start thinking about applying for SWE Awards! Your sections have all accomplished a lot over FY14 and now it is time to be recognized for that. Here are descriptions of Society and Region H SWE Collegiate Awards.
Society SWE Collegiate Awards
- Outstanding Collegiate Section/Outstanding new Collegiate Section: Awards presented to Collegiate Sections with the most outstanding overall program for the year
- Collegiate Technical Poster Competition: Emphasizes the ability to deliver outstanding visual presentations
- Team Tech Competition (Sponsored by Boeing): Emphasizes the importance of teamwork and interface with industry in the engineering educational process
- SME Bowl (Sponsored by Exxon Mobile Corporation): The Subject Matter Expert (SME) Bowl is a competition that challenges collegiate members in the areas of science, math, physics, engineering, and technology, and also challenges them in their knowledge of SWE history and policies
Click here to read more about the awards and to download application packets.
Society SWE Section Awards
- Communication Awards
- Membership Awards: Collegiate Transition, Collegiate to Career, Region Membership, Membership Retention Program and Membership Recruitment Program
- Multicultural Awards: Motorola Foundation Multicultural Award (Professional Sections and MALs); Boeing Company Multicultural Award (Collegiate Sections)
- Outreach Awards: Event/Series Program, Outreach MOU Partnership, Outreach Parent and Educator Program
- Professional Awards
Click here to read more about the awards and to download application packets. These awards are due July 1, 2014.
Region H SWE Collegiate Awards
- Outstanding Collegiate Section Award
- Collegiate Emerging Leader Award
Click here to read more about the awards and to download application packets. These awards are due May 31, 2014.
- Make sure you have all your event information when you are filling out the form
- Remember to obtain SWE membership information from SWE HQ
- Don’t forget supporting documents, pictures, and links on the applications
- If you have questions, please contact the award coordinator or your Region Collegiate Team
3M is seeking a Process Development Engineer for the Corporate Research Process Laboratory (CRPL). Be part of what is next! Click here to read more about the position.
The All Iowa SWE Conference will be held in Dubuque, Iowa on April 26th. Visit the conference website to register.
The deadline for FY15 SWEFL (SWE Future Leaders) Program Nominations is April 23rd, 2014; please take this opportunity to nominate outstanding collegiate members. Nominees should have no less than two years left of a current degree program (i.e. Freshmen and Sophomores for undergraduates or 1st/2nd year graduate students going for a doctorate) and shall have a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0. Candidates for SWEFL nominations should be active collegiate members of the Society and have exhibited strong leadership potential and interest in extended involvement in the Society beyond the collegiate experience. Nominees who have been selected as SWEFLs for a previous FY or have attended the Collegiate Leadership Institute or Forum as another function are precluded from being nominated. The nominee should not be on study abroad during her term as a SWEFL.
SWEFLs will be given the opportunity to expand their leadership skills and SWE knowledge throughout the year via experiences such as webinars, a mentoring program and attending the Collegiate Leadership Institute in conjunction with the WE14 Annual Conference October 23-25, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA “A Global Exchange for Change.” At the conference SWEFLs will join other regional collegiate leadership in professional development workshops and networking opportunities.
Nominators should have an established relationship with the nominee that permits detailed insight into the nominee’s leadership potential and interest in the Society. The nominator cannot be the nominee herself, as one of the leadership metrics used for establishing future leadership is to establish networks and relationships. Nominators are not required to be members of SWE, but should have some knowledge of the Society to understand the value of the program and the Society goals. Examples of past nominators include professors, counselors, and SWE section presidents.
The nomination form asks for your contact information and the SWEFL nominee’s contact information. Additionally, the following questions are part of the nomination:
1. Current involvement in university section and/or other Society activities
2. Potential future involvement in university section and/or other Society activities
3. Activities and responsibilities in other organizations that show positive leadership skills and abilities
4. Traits and capabilities of the nominee that indicate her leadership potential
5. How the nominee would benefit from participating in the SWEFL program
6. How others would benefit from the nominee participating in the SWEFL program
The nominee will receive a request for follow up information after the nomination form is complete and submitted. Please make sure the nominee’s contact information is correct and monitored. I look forward to receiving your nominations.
FY15 SWEFL Coordinator
I hope March is going well for you!
One of the things I have been looking forward to most this March has been Congressional Visits Days, which I will write more about in my April All Together letter. We are also right in the middle of region conference season—have you attended your region’s conference yet? I had a great time at Region G’s conference a few weeks ago, where I got to attend some interesting sessions and connect with some new SWEsters, and I am also excited to be attending the Region F conference in a few weeks.
If you have already been to your region’s conference, you may have noticed that this year’s State of SWE included some discussion of the SWE values. I don’t think the SWE values are something that we generally spend a lot of time thinking about, so I wanted to spend some time reflecting on what the SWE values mean and why they matter. For those who don’t know, SWE has five values: professional excellence, inclusive environment, integrity, mutual support and trust. In a collegiate context, SWE exists among dozens or hundreds of other clubs and social organizations that are often seen as our competitors. But SWE is a professional organization, not just a social group, and we exist in a larger context than just our campus environment. What we do in our SWE sections reflects on our school, the Society and the engineering profession. This means that when we plan SWE events we have to think about how they will be perceived by outsiders.
Consider the ‘Mr. Engineer’ pageants that are held at some collegiate sections. Many of these events are competitions meant as fun fundraisers for SWE sections, but have received criticism from sponsors and recruiters. If you are a sponsor or recruiter looking in from the outside, the idea of a ‘Mr. Engineer’ pageant doesn’t necessarily sound inclusive or professional at first glance. Think about the kind of criticism a company would receive for holding an event like this and you can see why sponsors and recruiters may have a negative reaction to this sort of event, even if it wasn’t intended to be offensive. I wrote last month about needing the support of the majority to help move women and minorities forward—this is where SWE’s mutual support value ties in.
As a professional society, we do have to think about the larger implications and perspectives on events that we hold, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun. It’s all about achieving a balance. If your board works hard all year, it’s okay to take them out for ice cream to celebrate their achievements. Social events can be a good way to relax, meet new people and build up a support network. But if social events are all we do we’re not really serving our role as a professional society. Conversely, professional development is important, but if all we did was host professional development events we may not be seen as a fun or inviting group, and without that we may not be able to recruit members who are able to provide professional development. With all the roles SWE serves for us, sometimes it can be hard to strike a balance. When we do, it is very rewarding to be able to experience professional growth and support in the inclusive environment that is SWE.
As always, let me know if you have any questions, comments or ideas at email@example.com.
FY14 Collegiate Director
Letter from the All Together SWE Newsletter