This past March, the Iowa State University chapter of Society of Women Engineers held their first annual SWE University event. This event was geared towards junior and senior women in high school who are interested in engineering, but have not necessarily decided on it. The students are given the opportunity to experience both engineering and the Iowa State campus in order to see what college is actually like. They also get introduced to some of the recourses for women in STEM fields, such as Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), which is the campus’s learning community for women in STEM fields.
Over the course of the two days on campus, these young women got to explore all of the different disciplines of engineering offered at Iowa State, sit in on a college level engineering lecture, participate in school sponsored Friday night events, as well as spend the night in a residence hall with a host, who participates in Iowa State’s chapter of SWE. In the conclusion survey that the students took after the weekend was over, the students showed that they had really enjoyed their unique experiences with being on campus, and were more interested in going into engineering.
This program was also greatly beneficial to the SWE students who volunteered. In addition to having a lot of fun, they got the opportunity to act as mentors to younger students. This was especially beneficial to freshmen SWE members who may not have gotten this opportunity yet, being the newest group to campus. It was refreshing to see the younger students so excited about engineering, and it helped revitalize the college students in the middle of the semester.
This event was an enormous success with 55 high school students attending, 75 students volunteering, and all of the faculty and staff who got involved. It really brought the different engineering disciplines together, and Iowa State is excited to see where this program will go and expand in the future.