Clarkson University’s Society of Women Engineers, more commonly known as SWE amongst students, sent 23 female engineering students to the Region F SWE Conference in Boston, Massachusetts this past weekend where they received an award for their outstanding membership program. The event was held at Wentworth Institute of Technology and consisted of a conference on Saturday, February 28th and various activities on Sunday, March 1st.
The event was named “SWE are the Future” and is held annually for SWE organizations from various universities to attend. The conference consists of inspirational talks, educational presentations, workshops, technical tours, and puts a large amount of focus on networking opportunities.
Networking entails talking to SWE members from other universities, as well as with large engineering companies. Kaylee Knapp, President of SWE here at Clarkson, states, “We are able to talk to other students from other SWE chapters and gain their perspective of being a woman in engineering, and we get to hear about what they do in their chapter and how they succeed. We all learn from each other, and it is a great way to make important connections for your future.”
The conference featured many speakers, including SWE President Elizabeth Bierman, who each addressed the students in the audience, giving them great advice and perspectives about the field of engineering and ways they can succeed in the professional world.
While at the event, Clarkson SWE members had the opportunity to attend 5 out of 25 available sessions that fell into the following 6 categories: SWE Business and Information, Collegiate Focus, Professional Development, Innovation and Technology, Sustainability, and Technical Tours. Students are able to choose the sessions that interest them the most, making the experience very enjoyable and interesting for each individual SWE member at the conference.
Along with sessions, students attend a 2.5 hour career fair in which they have the opportunity to speak to 20 engineering companies that could possibly set up internships, co-ops, jobs, and connections for the future. This career fair is very similar to the ones held here on Clarkson campus every fall and spring, just on a smaller, more engineering-focused scale.
Network Reception and Awards follow the sessions and career fair. At this year’s Conference, Clarkson SWE received an award for Outstanding Membership Program. According to SWE’s official website, this award is given “in recognition of a significant contribution in the area of membership. Significance can be in the form of an innovative membership event or program, or in terms of the impact on membership retention or growth.”
From the charter of Clarkson University SWE in 1973, membership has grown immensely. The organization now has 13 board of director members and roughly 50 general body members.
Clarkson SWE strives to develop all of its members in their personal and professional lives, following SWE’s official goal which states, “Our organization is centered on a passion for our members’ success and continues to evolve with the challenges and opportunities reflected in today’s exciting engineering and technology specialties.”
Clarkson SWE participates in a wide variety of outreach activities and professional development events. Outreach activities include an annual Girl Scouts event where SWE members help scouts earn their science patches by doing science-related activities with them and a foster kids event where a small groups of foster children come to campus to participate in science and engineering activities that will expose them to STEM disciplines.
Professional development includes prep for career fairs and regular membership events to keep members engaged and active in the society. Clarkson SWE partakes in many other activities including car washes, bake sales, Yankee Candle fundraisers, open houses, the “Pi Day” celebration with the math department, a diversity event with Professor Ettinger of Clarkson, a Valentine’s Day event making valentines for patients at the local hospital, and participating in the ValueU campaign.
Due to their fundraising efforts, SWE members were sent to the Region F Conference free of charge this year. Clarkson SWE hopes to increase the number of members in the society in years to come, meanwhile continuing to positively impact the community and build the character of its members, preparing them for a fulfilling personal and professional life.