SWE’s International Ambassador program is an opportunity for a SWE member that resides outside the United States to serve in a SWE leadership position for their city, country, region and the Society. Our International Ambassadors help us achieve our goals on a global scale. We love hearing about the engineering culture in their hometowns, and with our SWE International Ambassador Spotlight, we hope to provide a glimpse into what it’s like to be a woman engineer in countries across the world.
International Ambassador Spotlight: Jennifer Patterson, tenure track assistant professor at K.U. Leuven in Belgium.
Jennifer Patterson says she values the unique resources the Society provides that she can’t find locally in her city of Leuven, Belgium.
“I had been a member for SWE in the U.S., so when I moved, I didn’t give it much thought and continued to renew my membership,” Patterson said. “Since then, I have really come to value the network of women engineers, the professional development training and the conferences that SWE provides. I have not found similar resources in Switzerland or Belgium.”
Patterson started off in chemical and biomedical engineering, and now works in the materials engineering department of a university.
“My research is in the field of biomaterials, and that was first sparked by a summer research program that I had a chance to participate in when I was in my second year of university. At the university where I work, there are certainly fewer female engineering professors; however, I don’t feel that there is a big difference in how they are treated or perceived by students and colleagues,” she said.
As a member and International Ambassador of SWE, Patterson attended the WE Europe and WE India 2016 conferences. The conferences, modeled after SWE’s annual conference in the U.S., feature expert presenters providing valuable content to women STEM.
“The opening keynote was my favorite part,” Patterson explained. “First, it was great to arrive at the conference and walk into this auditorium filled with other women engineers. Then, the talk itself was both interesting technically and engaging.”
Along with enjoying the presentations, the conference also ended up being a great way for Patterson to inspire other women to join SWE.
“One thing that was surprisingly effective (at gaining interest in SWE) was to submit a picture of the SWE International Ambassadors at the WE Europe 2015 conference in Amsterdam to our departmental newsletter, mostly because it was a nice picture of us! But people noticed, and they asked what SWE was and what the organization does.”
Become a SWE International Ambassador
A SWE International Ambassador serves from 1st January through 31st December and will be provided training and tools each January to ensure the SWE International Ambassador is equipped to be successful in this volunteer role. The program requires the volunteer to re-apply each November in order to ensure the volunteer remains up to date on all SWE international activities and can pledge the volunteer time commitment.
SWE International Ambassadors promote the SWE brand, grow the SWE community in their city, and are knowledgeable of SWE products and services available to members and partners living in their country. In addition to their role of SWE representative in-country, a SWE International Ambassador creates a Personal Leadership Development Plan and has the opportunity to complete one of the SWE Leadership Competency eLearning Modules. To learn more and apply, visit SWE’s international page.
Don’t have time to commit to an entire year as a SWE Ambassador? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out other ways you can get involved in SWE in your country.