Better Know a Section: H087 Valparaiso University

Section website:
Section contact email:


When was your section first chartered?
About how many members do you have? What is the (approximate) male to female ratio of you SWE members?
We officially have 23 members on the national roster, however, a significant number attend and are not registered nationally. We generally have 20 come to the meetings held every other week. Our male to female ratio is 1.5:10.
How many officers do you have? Do you have an office on campus?
9 officers, no campus office.
Are you a commuter school, or do most students live on campus?
Mainly a residential school.
How many students are in engineering?
Approximately 600.
What would you tell someone if they were first coming to your campus?
Valparaiso University is located in Northwest Indiana and is a beautiful campus year-round. Our proximity to Chicago and Lake Michigan make Valparaiso the perfect location. Valparaiso has the hometown feel that is lost in many towns today.
How often does your section attend a Regional or National Conference? How many members usually go for each?
Our section attends Regional and National Conferences every year. The National Conference is generally restricted to eight members (or more if we can get a larger hotel room) and as many as want to go to Regionals are allowed to attend. We generally send eight members to Regionals as well. Regionals are paid for by the College of Engineering and Valparaiso University Student Senate.
Has your section hosted a SWE conference before, or plan to in the future?
We placed a bid for the FY10 Regional Conference and are currently working on our bid for FY11.
What is your school and/or college of engineering known for?
We are very well known for our research and outreach projects which currently include: a zinc oxide solar collector, Braille bible manufacturing, service projects in Nicaragua and Nigeria, and our Jerry Sanders robot teams.

Section History

What are some of the things your section does to archive its history?
We have a series of scrapbooks that archive our history. We are looking toward archiving our history online as well. The remainder of our history is filed away by event.
Do you have any suggestions on how other sections can keep track of their own history?
Scrapbooking is a wonderful way to keep track of your section’s history. It provides for creative members to preserve the section history while having fun in the process! Consider hosting the scrapbook online so alumni can keep up with the section’s activities.

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.
Regarding outreach – One of the goals for our section this year was to reinstate the relationship with the Drifting Dunes Girl Scout Council. However, due to a change in the registration program on the Girl Scout server, we were unable to host the Girl Scouts for the planned weekend. Instead, we hosted a single Girl Scouts for an afternoon of engineering based activities which included a tour of the Scientific Visualization Lab, wind tunnel, and bridge building. The girls’ enthusiasm for engineering was apparent and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the troop.
What kind of new events do you plan on starting at your section?
Next year, we are starting a mentoring program between upperclassmen SWE members and incoming freshman female engineers.
Do you do anything special or interact with a nearby professional SWE section?
No, but we are looking to build a strong relationship with them.

Section Strategies

What does your section do to attract and retain members?
We send out letters to the incoming female engineers and invite them to visit our booth during the activities fair which is held in August. We also have a welcome dinner and give away five free memberships to new members.
How do you reward members?
Our section is very small, so individual participation is high at most events so we do not reward members at this point in time.
Some states get cold in the winter. How do you get members out when it’s cold outside?
Our meetings are held during Chapel Break (11am) so the majority of the members are already in the building because of classes. Otherwise, we host game nights with other societies in the engineering building to provide opportunities for engineers to interact without the stress of homework or exams.
How does your section obtain funds to help defray the costs of attending a conference?
We ask for money from the Valparaiso University Student Senate in our yearly budget for both the Regional and National Conferences. In recent years, the cost of the National Conference has not been completely covered by the funds secured from Student Senate. The dean of the College of Engineering, Dean Olejniczak has graciously helped defray some of the costs for Nationals. Members that attend the conference are responsible for conference registration and meals during the trip.
Valpo SWE Members at the 2008 National Conference.
Valpo SWE Members at the 2008 National Conference.
Valpo SWE Members at the 2008 National Conference.
Valpo SWE Members at the 2008 National Conference.
Girl Scout Visit 2009, Valparaiso.
Girl Scout Visit 2009, Valparaiso.
Valpo SWE Members at Region H Conference 2008.
Valpo SWE Members at Region H Conference 2008.
Valpo SWE Members at Region H Conference 2008.
Valpo SWE Members at Region H Conference 2008.

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