Better Know a Section: H061 University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

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When was your section first chartered?
We were chartered in 1961 so that means we’ll be celebrating our 50th birthday soon!
About how many members do you have? What is the (approximate) male to female ratio of you SWE members?
We have approximately 260 paid members but well over 300 students who attend meetings and help volunteer. We have a few male students regularly at our meetings, one of whom is an officer this semester!
How many officers do you have? Do you have an office on campus?
We currently have 40 SWE officers, 4 Boeing Team Tech officers, and 2 Grad SWE officers. We have an office on campus that we encourage our members to visit when they have questions or just want to hang out. Our officers each hold weekly office hours, allowing the office to be open from approximately 9am to 5pm each school day. This past year we introduced “fun office hours” where the officers host a themed get-together for our members to enjoy.
Are you a commuter school, or do most students live on campus?
Most students live on campus.
How many students are in engineering?
As of Fall 2008, the College of Engineering had 5,270 undergraduate students enrolled.
What would you tell someone if they were first coming to your campus?
The University of Michigan has something to offer for everyone. South Campus is home to numerous sporting events and other recreational activities. Central Campus appeals to the night life crowd, with every type of restaurant and entertainment venue you can imagine. Students on North Campus, home to the College of Engineering, can enjoy access to the latest technology while benefiting from the gorgeous natural surroundings filled with wildlife.
How often does your section attend a Regional or National Conference? How many members usually go for each?
Our section attends the Regional and National Conference every year. We normally send around 20 members to Nationals and 30-40 members to Regionals. The growing enthusiasm expressed by our members has helped to increase our drive to win the conference bid this year so that next year all of our members will have the opportunity to attend the conference.
Has your section hosted a SWE conference before, or plan to in the future?
In the past decade we have hosted two Regional conferences. We’d like to host the conference next year to help show our appreciation for SWE and to celebrate 60 great years of female empowerment. We have a Regional committee that has been hard at work for the past several months preparing logistics for every aspect of the conference. We’re confident that if we get the bid, next year’s conference will be the best one yet!
What is your school and/or college of engineering known for?
The College of Engineering is recognized around the world as being one of the top academic programs for engineering students. All of our undergraduate engineering majors rank in the top ten, half of which rank in the top three. The University of Michigan as a whole is known for its academic excellence and athletic legacies.

Section History

What are some of the things your section does to archive its history?
We currently have a Historian officer responsible for archiving our history. Each year we compose a scrapbook that highlights our various events. We also have an online photo album where people can post any pictures that they’ve taken with SWE.
Do you have any suggestions on how other sections can keep track of their own history?
Having an officer specifically devoted to archiving is a huge help. Our section is so busy with events that trying to keep records of everything that is going on is no small task.
Are there any unique stories about your section’s history?
In our first year of organizing Mr. Engineer, a pageant where a male representative of different societies competes to win the title of Mr. Engineer, one of our female members dressed up as a man and entered the competition.
Has your section been the home of any famous SWE members or other people?
Margaret Eller attended the University of Michigan for a short while before going on to become the first female faculty member at the University of Louisiana’s College of Engineering.

Event Highlight

Describe an event that your section does that relates to (pick one): outreach, your unique section, a social activity, technical learning, professional development, joint events with other organizations, etc.
One of the biggest events our section helps put on is our annual Career Fair. We work with Tau Beta Pi to host roughly 300 companies in the fall semester. Students of all engineering majors are invited to come network with company representatives. It’s an excellent opportunity to receive resume critiques, practice your interview skills, and figure out what you’re passionate about.
What kind of new events do you plan on starting at your section?
We’re doing a lot of planning right now in hopes of hosting the Region H Conference. If we get the bid, preparations for the conference will be our main focus in terms of new endeavors. We are also trying to develop two new projects this semester: a mentorship program with Grad SWE and SWE Squads. SWE Squads is a program that helps encourage friendships between new members and upperclassmen by motivating squads to participate in events with one another.
Do you do anything special or interact with a nearby professional SWE section?
Our section stays actively involved with SWE Detroit. We coordinate various events, like ice skating, that give our members a fun chance to meet female engineers who have experience in the workplace.
Does your section interact with other nearby sections?
We participate in several events put on by other sections. For example, we usually attend the Great Lakes Conference hosted by the SWE section at Michigan State University every year.

Section Strategies

What does your section do to attract and retain members?
We host several social events that help potential members feel more invited. This past year we started calling our meetings “seminars” to appeal to more students who felt that meetings were exclusive for members. We also began a program called “SWE Squads” in which freshmen members are paired with upperclassmen in hopes that the new members will feel more comfortable if they are able to expand their circle of friends.
How do you reward members?
Every year we hold a banquet at which numerous industries provide scholarships for our elevated members. Other perks for elevated members include getting their resume placed on a CD handed out to companies at the Career Fair and an invitation to a fun, end-of-the-semester event. Once a month we also hold a raffle for SWE apparel. The more events a member participates in, the more entries into the raffle they receive.
Some states get cold in the winter. How do you get members out when it’s cold outside?
We host events on both north and central campus to help accommodate everyone, regardless of where they live. Our members are great about making sure that rides can be provided for anyone who needs them.
How does your section obtain funds to help defray the costs of attending a conference?
We’re constantly selling SWE apparel to help raise money for the conference. We also have a flower sale around Valentine’s Day to help cover costs. Corporate sponsorships are definitely a huge help as well.
A picture of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor at the 2008 Region H Conference.
A picture of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor at the 2008 Region H Conference.
University of Michigan proudly display the awards they at the National Conference in 2008.
University of Michigan proudly display the awards they wonat the National Conference in 2008.
University of Michigans officers had a fun time playing mini golf at last falls officer retreat.
University of Michigan's officers had a fun time playing mini golf at last fall's officer retreat.
Girl Scout troop visits are always a big hit with our members at the University of Michigan.
Girl Scout troop visits are always a big hit with our members at the University of Michigan.

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