The Monthly SWE Newsletter
August 2014
SWE News

First Online Career Development Conference Attracts Numerous Attendees

SWE celebrates the success of our first Online Career Development Conference! Held March 13-14 and sponsored by Ingersoll Rand and URS Corporation, the conference attracted 330 attendees who participated in a series of online seminars. Speakers explored the importance of developing diverse skill sets, examined how to prepare for crucial career events and discussed how women in the engineering world can take control of the future of their careers.

During the conference, both attendees and presenters traded tips and advice on various social media networks. Mel B., an attendee, summed up her experience on Twitter during the second day of presentations. "Enjoying another afternoon listening in on the #SWEwebinar and getting great career and leadership advice! Thanks @SWEtalk!"

Many of the attendees kept up a conversation on Twitter during the conference that you can check out by using the #SWEtalk and #SWEwebinar hashtags. Using them, you can explore some of the tips, quotes and advice that made this year's online conference such a success. Keep working with SWE to develop your career—join us on LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your field and keep an eye on our Facebook for further professional development opportunities.

Finalists for the New Faces of Engineering Collegiate Edition

Please join SWE in recognizing the 2014 SWE finalists for the New Faces of Engineering Collegiate Edition Program awarded by DiscoverE.

The SWE representative for New Faces is Sara Lillard. Sara is a senior at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Sara is the current Region B Collegiate Communications Editor and her section’s secretary. In addition to her SWE membership, Sara is a member and officer of a number of other engineering and university organizations. She is active in FIRST Robotics, Girl Scouts of America, the NASA SEED Microgravity Program, MESA and a number of eWeek activities. Sara values her networking experiences and credits much of her growth to taking on leadership roles that have broadened her outlook. She is a rocket scientist, and proud of it!

SWE’s other finalists are Savannah Goodman and Divya Mehta.

Savannah is a senior Civil and Environmental Engineering major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the Region H Collegiate Representative, a past section president and the past holder of several other SWE leadership positions. She is also Director of the Engineering Council Knights of Saint Patrick, the Undergraduate Advisory Board Lead for the Dean's Student Advisory Committee, and the US Green Building Council - LEED Coordinator. She has participated as the secretary and director for UIUC in SWE’s Team Tech competition. She posits that engineering is like a riddle that challenges engineers to solve. However there is no riddle why she is one of SWE’s Collegiate New Faces.

Divya is a senior at The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Industrial Engineering. She started Penn State SWE's first alumni mentoring program for 50 undergraduate women engineers. Divya is Vice President of Corporate Relations where she promoted, supported, engaged, and motivated over 300 women engineers to participate in a nationwide essay writing competition between 36 different schools. This led the Penn State SWE section to a victory that won $17,000 for the section! Divya credits SWE with being a motivating factor since high school and a key reason why she has chosen engineering as a career.

SWE is proud to be a key nurturing factor in the development of such excellent women. No one would be surprised to find them continuing in leadership roles in SWE and beyond.

Improve Your Outreach Efforts with Voices from the Field

Officially launched in February, Voices from the Field is SWE's new outreach webinar series. Presented by your fellow SWE members, each month a new webinar debuts addressing topics to improve your outreach efforts. Speakers will share their knowledge and experience, focusing on tips and the tools they use to host fun and successful outreach events. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about planning, executing and publicizing their K-12 outreach endeavors. Each webinar is a one-hour live event, and includes time for closing questions and answers.

"We're quite proud of the success of our first two webinars and I'm already looking forward to the next one. It's so rewarding to watch these presenters, to learn from their experience, and it's always exciting to see our outreach community grow and develop,” said Randy Freedman, SWE outreach manager.

These webinars also provide a great opportunity to hone your leadership and presentation skills. Members who have already led successful outreach events are encouraged to apply to present and share their best practices. Those interested should fill out the Voices from the Field application. Presentations can run from five-30 minutes. Deadlines for these applications and the details for the currently scheduled webinars are as follows:

April Webinar (April 30)
Theme: How do you Connect the Work you do to a Hands-on Activity to Share with Girls?
Application Deadline: April 21

May Webinar (May 28)
Theme: How do you Engage and Involve Volunteers in your Outreach?
Application Deadline: May 14

June Webinar (June 25)
Theme: What are your Best Techniques for Effectively Managing your Outreach?
Application Deadline: June 11

And be sure to check out the recording of last month's Voices from the Field, which focused on the Corporate Engineering Challenge.

Finally, continue the discussion and learn more about improving your outreach events during this month's tweetchat, which will take place at noon on April 18. During the tweetchat, members will discuss their favorite outreach tools. Join the conversation and keep up with your fellow SWE members—follow @SWETalk on Twitter and use #AskSWE to add your voice. For even more outreach information and news, be sure to check out our Facebook and LinkedIn.

Diversity and Inclusion at Sea

Colleen LaymanThe Society of Women Engineers is pleased to maintain an ongoing relationship with the U.S. Navy. SWE board member Colleen Layman recently had the opportunity to see what life is like aboard the Navy vessel that boasts the greatest percentage of women sailors at 26 percent. Below, Colleen shares the insights she gleaned during this exciting time, meeting with the men and women of the USS Ronald Reagan.

The Navy officer strapped into his seat three rows ahead of me waves his arm in the air and shouts a barely audible “Here we go, here we go,” over the intercom of the C-2 Greyhound I am flying aboard. Twenty seconds later, our aircraft’s tail hook catches the middle cable on the aircraft carrier deck. The plane decelerates from 130 miles per hour to zero in 1.5 seconds. I have just earned my first (and very likely my only) U.S. Navy TRAP patch and my adventure as a distinguished visitor aboard the USS Ronald Reagan has begun. For the next 26 hours, I will be immersed in the day-to-day life experiences of a Navy sailor at sea.

During our visit, the USS Ronald Reagan was at sea about 30-40 minutes southwest of Naval Air Station, North Island in Coronado, Calif., conducting routine training in preparation for deployment later this year. As part of this training, Navy air wing pilots were qualifying to land on and take off from the deck of the aircraft carrier, a feat that I found to be absolutely amazing given the fact that they basically needed to hit a 3 foot by 3 foot target box that is constantly moving up, down and sideways (depending on the wind and waves) while traveling at 160 miles per hour. They do this while at full throttle so that if they miss the catch wires on the deck, they have sufficient speed to take back off and recover. This was incredible to watch during the day, standing on the deck of the aircraft carrier, but was even more amazing to watch at night, with the pilots having only the colored hand lights of the crew on the deck to guide them. All of these landings are orchestrated using only hand signals during the daylight hours and colored hand lights during the nighttime hours to simulate conditions where communications could be cut off or restricted due to operations. My group spent quite a bit of time standing on the deck watching the daylight flight operations. The whole operation was incredibly well coordinated by a stellar team of young men and women in various colored shirts. Purple shirts fuel aircraft, white shirts monitor safety, yellow shirts direct aircraft movement, red shirts handle weapons and ammo, green shirts hook aircraft to catapults and handle arresting wires, brown shirts are responsible for individual aircraft and blue shirts chock and chain aircraft. I’m awestruck by the fact that most of this work is being done by 19- and 20-year-olds. I can remember how irresponsible I was at 19 or 20 years of age. Impressive.

At night we had the opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of all of this activity from “vulture’s row,” a windowed, balcony-type area located about seven stories above the deck of the carrier. And as luck would have it, one of the pilots who had recently finished his qualification runs was available to join us and provide a play-by-play of the activity that we were watching. He shared what it felt like to be a pilot sitting in that seat waiting to get catapulted off deck while both nerves and adrenaline build up, how it felt the first time his plane successfully caught the wire on the deck of the carrier (and what it felt like when he missed it), and how he just generally loved to fly. Like all the sailors and pilots we met during our visit, you could tell by the look on his face and the enthusiasm in his voice that he truly loved his job and was proud of the entire crew aboard the ship. That is something that impressed me most during the visit—how every member of the crew, from general laborers to the admiral himself, performed their job in such an enthusiastic manner, with pride and dedication.

In between watching planes land and launch, we got to explore a large portion of the ship and meet the people responsible for protecting commerce and American interests on the waters around the globe. We visited the Combat Direction Center responsible for directing and communicating combat operations throughout the carrier strike group, Flight Deck Control where the status and operation of each aircraft is monitored, the Jet Shop where they repair and test jet engines before installing them, the Bridge where we met the commanding officer team, and the Forecastle where the anchor chains and windlasses that raise and lower the anchors are housed. We were treated to lunch with the pilots in their own mess hall and the captain and several of his officers hosted us for dinner in the officers’ mess. I was amazed at how the aircraft carrier was really so much like a little village. It had its own chapel, chef and restaurant staff, judge and court, dental center, prison ward, hospital, convenience store, computer center, gym and recreation center, library, graphic arts and television station. They even had a Starbucks on board—yes, even the Navy has Starbucks it seems.

Our accommodations, the finest on the ship, resembled lower staterooms on board a typical cruise ship. Sleep was not something that I got a great deal of that night. Our rooms were located just below one of the steam-powered catapults used to launch planes off the ship and the crew was working well into the early morning hours that night qualifying pilots. Even with earplugs, the noise could be nearly deafening—my roommate and I were way too excited to sleep anyway and in between launches we chatted excitedly about our day well into the early morning.

In the morning, we learned more about life as an enlisted sailor, had breakfast with some of the ship’s enlisted leadership and sadly began to prepare for our journey home. The end of the adventure, however, was joyfully postponed for us as the ship was scheduled for a refueling operation that interrupted all air traffic on and off the vessel for a couple of hours. In addition to being granted a postponement to our eventual departure, we were given a rare opportunity granted to distinguished visitors to watch another highly orchestrated naval operation.  A refueling ship pulled up alongside the carrier, the two captains coordinated their spacing and speed, and the crews transferred fuel and other materials between the two ships flawlessly. All I could say was “Wow!” as I watched them flawlessly execute these choreographed moves. One of our guides commented that our Navy was more successful than the Russian Navy during the Cold War simply because we had devised a much more reliable and successful process for these refueling operations.

As all good things do, however, our visit eventually came to an end. We donned our cranials, horse collars and goggles and, after a safety briefing, headed back to the C-2 Greyhound to be catapulted back off the ship and back to North Island Naval Air Station. As we sat patiently, waiting for the crew to hook us up to the launch arm and the steam to build up pressure, I had a few minutes to reflect on my visit. During my 20 years working in the power generation industry, I have worked with numerous ex-Navy operators, engineers, commissioning teams and maintenance crews. The power generation industry is proud to employ a large number of men and women who have worked aboard Navy aircraft carriers, submarines and other vessels. For many years now I have eagerly listened to their stories and admired them for their courage and hard work. But until I was granted this opportunity to visit the USS Ronald Reagan and see firsthand how the U.S. Navy operates, I had really no idea of the depth and commitment of the service that they have given our country. I am really lucky and very proud to have so many friends and acquaintances who have served on board Navy vessels. As this final thought ran through my head, we were finally launched off the deck of the carrier. I felt us accelerating; faster, faster, faster, then slower and the plane took over.  We were on our way back to land.

Thank you to the brave, dedicated men and women aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and throughout our military services.

SWE Members Share Tips for Women Beginning Engineering Careers

You can discover some of the best advice for women in engineering just by asking your fellow SWE members. Over on our Facebook page, members are doing just that, chiming in with a wealth of useful advice when they were asked the following: "What advice would you give a woman engineer just entering the workplace?"

Here are some of the most popular responses:

"I recommend you ask as many questions as you can about the company, the work, the technology, etc. Ask for work and try your best (also do as much as you can without asking for help); there's no need to fear failure because no one will give the new kid anything too important, but you will learn from success or failure." - Livia M.

“Be confident!" - Julie K.

"Speak up! What you have to say is important." - Kristina K.

"Get your degree immediately after high school and make full-time school a priority. It's WAY harder to do it a la carte later in life." - Anna P.

"Sit at the table. You deserve to be there." - Kristina H.

"Don't let anyone trip you up." - Carrie-Anne H.

"Find a mentor in the business." - Norjasushinta B.

"Build a wide and strong network outside your company and if a big company, inside too, but outside your chain of command." - Lynne A.

"Be yourself. You and your talents are enough, even when it doesn't feel like it. Work hard, but don't let others be your compass. Mentor others along the way. Always train your replacement so you can move up." - Jennifer H.

Want to share your own advice? Continue the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Sign up for a Free “Consulting-Specifying Engineer” Subscription

In an effort to provide the most relevant, powerful training materials for SWE members, the Society has entered into a partnership with CFE Media, a publishing house specializing in numerous discipline-specific magazines for engineers in the field. Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is a vital resource for professional engineers who design, specify and commission mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire/life safety, lighting and controls systems for nonresidential buildings.

FREE to engineering professionals—subscribe today!

Summary of the Latest Board of Directors Meeting

This month, the board of directors (BOD) meeting summary is for the BOD meeting that took place March 7-8 in Washington D.C.

  • Karen Horting led discussions on several different subjects:

    • SWE’s Content Strategy: Social media has been a huge success for spreading the word about SWE and our mission. Discussed were further social media opportunities for SWE leaders and members to participate in. For example, all of our publications (All Together, and SWE Magazine) provide opportunities for readers to comment. Paid speakers provide social media contributions as well—they are required to provide a blog post and a five minute podcast. Also, when posting on Facebook you can include “#SWEtalk” to have this picked up by Twitter and on Twitter include “#FB” to be included on Facebook. We invite all regions and sections to use social media.

    • IT Strategy: All sections are encouraged to use for their website. Helpful resources that will debut soon include two e-Books, the WE14 website, the WE14 Conference App and the blogs mentioned in the Content Strategy section.

    • Corporate Membership: The Standard Corporate membership needs an update. Karen presented new options for donation amount and benefits.

  • CLI Discussion: The leadership training was well received. The mentor/mentee pairing could have used more mentor volunteers, but those who participated found it valuable. CLI 2014 will center the leadership focus and be integrated into the conference as an invited track.

  • FY15 SWEFL’s Plan: The SWEFL transformation is a work in progress. For 2014, it was decided that there would be 2-3 SWEFL per region and that we would keep the SWEFL coordinator position. Noted was the importance of the program keeping the SWE focus. Each SWEFL needs to have a yearlong action plan with follow-up.

  • Region Collegiate Leadership Training FY15: Some changes to the training were discussed. These include a welcome packet, a reworking of the “Knowledge of SWE” module, the possibility of adding planted questions for discussion and quizzes that would keep the audience engaged.

  • International Groups: There continues to be a lot of interest in expanding outside the U.S. While the Globalization Advisory Board is looking into possible options, the BOD had a discussion regarding what could be done in the interim to help the International Member Team and International Member Coordinator.

  • FY15 Ops Plan: Refinements were made to the FY15 ops plan. The intent is to have this ready right before FY15 starts.

  • Rolling 3-year Budget Plan Discussion: There was a review of the rolling 3-year budget. Some of the actions that need to be taken before the FY15 budget is voted on were identified.

As has been our practice, the minutes from the formal meeting can always be found on the governance section of the SWE website after you log in.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you find this information helpful. Thanks.


Wendy Schauer LandwehrWendy Schauer Landwehr, F.SWE
Secretary, Society of Women Engineers

Join a Committee for FY15

I am pleased to announce the call for FY15 committee members. The power of our committees and our volunteers is what moves SWE forward. Society committees are also a major aspect of our talent development pipeline process. I encourage both collegians and professionals to join the SWE volunteer team for FY15!

If you currently serve on a committee, please confirm with the current leader your interest in continuing to serve in FY15. If you are not serving on a committee and are interested in serving, then please complete the online volunteer interest form. Please submit your form by May 1, 2014. You can learn more about the society committees and find contact information for current chairs on the committees page of the SWE website. Click here for a complete list and description of committees seeking volunteers for FY15. You will be contacted by the committee chair by early July to discuss volunteering options. There are a wide range of opportunities and levels of commitment.

SWE is also looking for a nominating committee deputy chair for FY15. At their February meeting, the senate approved the creation of the role to streamline the nominating of committee chair candidates and to provide support to the chair. Similar to the chair, the deputy chair will be a nonvoting member of the committee. More detail about the new role can be found in the Nomination Section (6) of the Society bylaws. Please complete the application to apply for the deputy chair or for the other available chair or coordinator positions.

SWE values diversity and thus I encourage all of you to think about the opportunity of serving on a committee. Thanks to all who are currently serving. I am looking forward to another great year of progress!

Elizabeth Bierman
FY14 President Elect

SWE Celebrates Women's History Month

Women's History Month is upon us! SWE joins participants around the world in "celebrating women of character, courage and commitment," this year's theme. In honor of the event, we're taking a look at the notable moments that led to the creation of Women's History Month and commemorating our own history.

Women's History Month traces its roots back to the inaugural International Women's Day held March 19, 1911. At an International Women's Conference in 1910, attendees had proposed holding the day as a promotion of equal rights that would increase the visibility of the growing suffrage movement and honor women the world over. It steadily grew in popularity through  the years, and in 1978 Sarah Lawrence College held a Women's History Week around the day that explored numerous aspects of women's history. When Sarah Lawrence College then partnered with the Smithsonian Institution and the Women's Action Alliance to co-sponsor a conference highlighting women's history, word of the popularity of Women's History Week spread. Soon other organizations were organizing like-minded events across the country.

In 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter officially declared the week of March 8 to be National Women's History Week. Further recognition came in 1987, when the National Women's History Project successfully petitioned Congress to name March Women's History Month.

SWE traces its own history to 1919, when a group of women at the University of Colorado endeavored to organize a women's engineering society. They petitioned engineering schools across the nation for any information regarding women in their engineering programs and began to gauge interest for a society that would unite them. While they were often met with skepticism and occasionally with hostile responses, there was positive initial support for such a society. However, a true foundation would not be established until the number of women in the workplace increased during the 1940's because of World War II. Across the country, female student groups began to organize in support of their rights, and from May 27-28, 1950, a group of roughly 50 women gathered together in New Jersey for their first national convention. There, they elected inaugural SWE President Dr. Beatrice A. Hicks.

SWE looks to the examples set by the women behind these groups for inspiration and guidance. We continue to honor our own history over at our Tumblr, where photos from our archives spotlight members, memories and events from SWE's storied history. For the remainder of the month we'll be commemorating, celebrating and discussing the importance of Women's History Month on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as in-depth articles in the spring issue of SWE Magazine. Be sure to join your Section or Region in raising awareness of this month's activities, and join us on March 21 when speakers from the Online Career Development Center join us for a special #AskSWE tweetchat that will continue the festivities.

Engineering For Change – Adopt-a-Project

Do you need an engineering project for school? Is your SWE section looking for a different sort of program? Or do you just want to help communities around the world with quality of life issues that can be improved with engineering acumen? Adopt-a-Project through Engineering For Change.

More than 300 available projects are found on the E4C website. Not only will you find entries that fit your abilities, you will probably see some that speak to you in terms of the help you can provide.  Another option is to add your own project. If you know of a situation that can be improved or problem that can be solved using engineering, enter it in the work space so that the many E4C members can lend their experience to it. You can participate as an individual or group. Also, take a moment to look at the solutions library. This impressive list of successfully completed projects can be a source of inspiration.

Remember, no matter what your engineering discipline, there are projects there that need you and your talent. Choose water, energy, health, structures, agriculture, sanitation, or infosystems. Not only is this a chance to give back, it is also a chance to utilize the skills you are learning or have learned. It takes the SWE experience to a very real place as real people will be affected by your efforts. If you need a project for a class assignment or want to collaborate with your section, we encourage you to go to the website and get started.

Questions? Contact SWE’s Engineering For Change champion Carolyn Phillips or check out Engineering for Change on

Don't forget to register for this month's webinar. It highlights the global need for clean water. Register here.

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