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!
Antonella (Nella) Mantovano is a Senior in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Mechanics at Marquette University. She has been involved with Marquette University’s SWE Section since her freshman year. Nella started off as the Development Director her Sophomore year and then continued on as Section President her Junior year. She is also involved with the Biomedical Engineering Society, Daughters of Isabella, and currently works with UW-Milwaukee on engineering outreach projects for high school students in the greater Milwaukee area.
Why did you apply for RCR?
I applied for RCR because I wanted to become more involved with SWE. Since I had already served on the Executive Board my Sophomore and Junior year, I was really looking to further my involvement and leadership with SWE; not just on a collegiate level, but a regional level as well. I wanted to use my knowledge and experience of building up a struggling section to provide support to other sections struggling with similar issues that my section had, but to also provide support for all sections – struggling ones and thriving ones. Additionally, I wanted to have a better understanding of how professional and collegiate sections work together and how each of the sections can provide support to one another in order to flourish.
What does SWE mean to you?
To me, SWE means unity. SWE is not just a professional organization that provides women all over the world with endless amounts of opportunities, but also provides unity between all women in STEM related fields. SWE inspires women to be brave, driven, and to ultimately be proud to say that they are women in engineering. Being part of a small percentage of female engineers at my university, SWE has given me a sense of unity and support throughout my four years in college. And it is my hope to remain involved in SWE well beyond my collegiate years because I know I will be supported throughout my journey in becoming an engineer and making a difference.
Cynthia Ramirez is a junior in Materials Science and Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. She has been involved in the Purdue SWE section since her freshman year, including being the Membership Vitality Director, SWEetie Sidekick Chair, and Social Chair. She is also involved in Purdue’s Women in Engineering Program in the Mentor & Mentee Program and as a Small Group Leader.
Why did you apply for RCR?
I applied for RCR because I was nominated as a SWE Future Leader last year and had the ability to learn more about SWE on a Regional Level while still being involved in my collegiate section. I was able to really understand how the Region Collegiate Team operated and the impact that they had on all of the collegiate sections. I was also able to understand how the professional and collegiate sections work together on the Regional level and the support that is provided between each level. I wanted to be able to learn more about the other SWE collegiate sections and how they operate. I feel that as the RCR, I have the important task of connecting collegiate sections and being here as a resource. I have knowledge from my own section but being able to gather information from the other sections to those that are struggling is very valuable to Region H and SWE as a whole succeeding.
What does SWE mean to you?
SWE to me is a community that we all share the same values and overreaching goal, to support women in engineering. Whether it is with professional development or outreach involvement or the other numerous activities, there is a vast amount of opportunities for those involved in SWE. SWE provides a huge support system through all collegiate and regional levels that there is always the ability to collaborate and network with other women in engineering. Being involved on the Region Collegiate Team and Purdue SWE has given me amazing memories and opportunities and I plan to stay involved even after my term is over because SWE continually provides growth for me to become successful in my engineering field.
WE14, the Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference in Los Angeles is coming up quickly on Oct. 23-25. WE14 is also welcoming members of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES) for ICWES16, making the conference a global collaboration between engineers and scientists. Over 7,000 members will be attending for A Global Exchange for Change. It’s not too late to register!
Here are some tips for making the most of your WE14 experience:
Attend the career fair, hospitality suites, and company-sponsored events. The 250 employers at WE14 are eager to meet and recruit SWE members. The career opportunities are huge compared to most college and regional career fairs! Don’t forget to dress for success and do your research to make the best impression. The opening ceremony for the Career Fair is when most interview slots are filled, so don’t miss it.
Meet new people. Conferences are a great chance to network to create professional and personal relationships.
Learn as much as you can. WE14 provides dozens of professional development workshops and Lightning Talks, not to mention the inspiring keynote speeches, Team Tech presentations, and outreach opportunities such as Invent It. Build It.
Leave some room in your suitcase. Speaking of corporate sponsors, there are many goodies up for grabs at the conference. A couple of my favorite finds have been an umbrella from Northrop Grumman and a blanket from Toyota. Volunteers also usually get a nice scarf to take home.
Have some free time? Explore Los Angeles! You can even register to tour local attractions and companies such as SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.
I hope to see you in Los Angeles next week! I’ll be tweeting highlights of WE14 as well, so follow us at @SWERegionH!