Olin SWE is on a Mission

At the national SWE conference in Houston this year, 3 out of 10 finalists for best posters were from Olin. Earlier this school year, Olin SWE taught several girls in Newton’s Science Club for Girls about engineering.

These activities help Olin SWE fulfill the mission of the Society of Women Engineers: to “stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.” This is done through professional development, outreach, and education. As anyone can be part of this mission, members are not required to be female.

Olin SWE provides professional development primarily through SWE conferences. The national conference is the largest, lasting three days with hundreds of workshops and companies at its career fair. Olin SWE sends 10 to 30 people to the conference each year and does substantial fundraising beforehand to keep costs relatively low for attendees. A collegiate poster competition is associated with the conference and is meant to showcase good visual presentation of research and projects. Olin has historically done well in the competition. If missing classes and travel is not your cup of tea, there is the Region F conference, which also has many companies and workshops. This year it will be at the University of Connecticut.

Outreach is primarily educating K-12 girls about engineering to encourage them to go into engineering themselves. These events can range from Q&A to workshops on a variety of topics. Outreach can also involve educating people about SWE. To that end we organize the open house in West Hall for candidates.

Education involves recognizing and discussing topics important to women in engineering, both topics that are specifically related to women in engineering and topics that are equally relevant to all engineers. We have two primary methods of achieving this part of the mission: discussion on our list (swe@lists.olin.edu), which is open to all, and bringing speakers to Olin. Speakers we have brought to Olin in the past have included entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and workshops on communication. We’ve also held study breaks with professors during finals periods.

There are many ways to get involved. The most involved is to run for collegiate positions at the regional level. Olin has historically had success in this pursuit, with at least three current or former members of Olin SWE advancing to regional positions. On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest level of commitment is simply to join the mailing list, come to our events, and volunteer for our outreach events. We have board meetings every week, and everyone is invited. There are spots open on the board if you would like to join!

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