Winners of PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge Announced

Purdue University takes first place in the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge. The winning teams were announced at WE17 in Austin, TX.
Winners of PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge, an annual competition that asks undergraduate students to deliver innovative ideas and technical solutions in response to real-life business challenges.


First Place: Vindhya Aiyagari, Christina Landon, Zin Naing, and Matthew Welch of Purdue University


Second Place: Ishani Chakravarty, Shaurya Gupta, Avni Halabe, and Rafia Muhammad of the University of Texas at Austin


Third Place: Katherine Kiang and Shreya Santhanam of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Teams competed for cash prizes and the opportunity to present their ideas in Austin, Texas at WE17,  the largest professional development and networking conference for women in engineering. View our PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge Flickr photo album here.

“Each year, the students who participate in the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge are given a unique opportunity to apply what they’ve learned and help shape the role engineering plays in supporting actual business needs,” said Kevin O’Sullivan, senior vice president, Functional Capability – Beverages R&D: Product, Ingredients, Flavor and Applications, PepsiCo. “Every day, R&D is helping drive PepsiCo’s business by providing unrivaled technical skills and solutions to offer more enjoyable and nutritious foods and beverages to more people, in more places. Now in our third year, partnering with SWE enables us to connect with the future generation of female engineers and through this year’s challenge, we continue to welcome their fresh approaches to improving our operations.”

Undergraduate teams comprised of up to four participants were encouraged to participate in the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge by responding to one of the following challenges:

  • Water: Consider how water is used at different points along the life cycle of PepsiCo products and propose how we can lessen our net environmental, water extraction or overall usage.
  • Packaging: Present a sustainable packaging solution applicable to a food or beverage product.
  • Equipment: Design what the next core category of PepsiCo beverage equipment will look like to accompany our current offering of coolers, fountains and vending machines.

The top three teams were selected as finalists and invited to present their submissions to a panel of PepsiCo R&D leaders at WE17. Winners were officially announced during WE17s “Celebrate SWE!” event.

“The innovation we see each year with the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge entries is profound,” said Karen Horting, executive director and CEO at SWE. “These students are the future of engineering, and we look forward to welcoming them to our community and seeing where their creativity and brilliance takes them this year.”

More than 14,700 women engineers attended WE17. The conference and career far provide opportunities for the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge participants to explore graduate school opportunities with leading universities, meet hiring managers from major engineering companies, and engage in educational and interactive discussions and events to help women on their career path in engineering.

For more information about the Society of Women Engineers, visit For more information on PepsiCo and its longstanding commitment to STEM, please visit

About SWE

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), founded in 1950, is the world’s largest advocate and catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology. The not-for-profit educational and service organization is the driving force that establishes engineering as a highly desirable career aspiration for women. To ensure SWE members reach their full potential as engineers and leaders, the Society offers unique opportunities to network, provides professional development, shapes public policy and provides recognition for the life-changing contributions and achievements of women engineers. As a champion of diversity, SWE empowers women to succeed and advance in their personal and professional lives. For more information about the Society, please visit or call 312.596.5223.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated approximately $63 billion in net revenue in 2016, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world is what enables PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders. For more information, visit

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    SWE Blog provides up-to-date information and news about the Society and how our members are making a difference every day. You’ll find stories about SWE members, engineering, technology, and other STEM-related topics.

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