Six high school students were honored with the SWENext Global Innovator Award for their pursuits of engineering projects, their understanding of engineering principles, their roles in inspiring young girls to pursue engineering and their contributions to the communities they live in. Swathi Parthibha, Jothi Ramaswarmy, Anushka Saran, Sanjana Shah and Kate Stack were honored at a formal ceremony at the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) Annual Conference and Career Fair, WE18, on October 20, 2018, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
SWE is an international non-profit organization based in Chicago that supports women in engineering. SWENext is SWE’s program for girls 18 and younger to get involved in the organization, learn more about engineering and receive access to resources that support their interest in engineering. SWENext has allowed the award recipients to learn more about engineering and meet other current and future engineers.
“SWENext is an opportunity for SWE to nurture our future generation of engineers, providing them with resources to help them learn more about engineering and exposing them to other women engineers who can help them along the way,” said Randy Freedman, Director of Student Programs at SWE. “This is the fourth year of our SWENext Awards program, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of enthusiasm and commitment these girls already have for a future in engineering. These students are an exemplary role model in her community, and we are confident that with their passion for engineering, and their commitment to the community, they will do great things.”
Swathi Parthibha is an Edison, New Jersey resident and Middlesex County Academy student. Parthibha developed her interest in engineering through a fascination for robotics. This passion for robotics led her to participating in FIRST Robotics for the past seven years, and she is currently a programmer on an internationally competing FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team. Parthibha has also mentored a FIRST LEGO team and currently teaches at a STEM education center in her town, where she immerses elementary school students in the fundamentals of robotics and programming.
At school, Parthibha takes a rigorous Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology course and is Co-President of Middlesex County Academy’s chapter of TSA (Technology Student Association). She also serves as the Technology Lead of the Student Leadership Committee at Junior Achievement of NJ. Sponsored by major companies such as Verizon, Parthibha leads an organization of bi-annual 24-hour hackathons for high-school students with the goal of immersing high-school students in computer science and monthly coding fairs for middle-school students.
Parthibha recently completed a research internship at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, generating a computer model for use in magnetic drug targeting. Earlier this year, Parthibha received the SWENext Local Innovator Award at WE Local Providence, a local SWE conference and career fair in Rhode Island.
“Growing up I was discouraged to pursue engineering because my interests, such as videogames and coding, weren’t shared by other girls my age,” Parthibha said. “I don’t want any girl to feel this way because by hiding these parts of my life, I was essentially stripping away the uniqueness I possess. Because of my strong beliefs and passion for computer science, I constantly work toward getting more girls involved in STEM.”
Click here to see a link to Parthibha’s video submission for the SWENext Global Innovator Award.
Jothi Ramaswamy is a Mohegan Lake, New York resident and Lakeland High School student. She is naturally creative and loves engineering because it allows her to make the most of her creativity in designing new innovations that have the potential to solve various global issues. Ramaswamy is a 2018 Global Teen Leader, a 2018 National Winner of NCWIT’s Aspirations in Computing Award, a 2017 HERlead Fellow, a 2017 She++ Fellow and a 2017 Technovation Global Semifinalist.
One of Ramaswamy’s favorite things to do is develop iOS apps with social impact. One such app was ADSTonization, an app designed to help autistic children socialize by using sentiment analysis to extract emotions behind text into app, thus helping autistic children determine the mood of people they talk to.
Last year she worked under a mentor at IBM to develop RATracker, an app that determines a person’s risk of developing arthritis. Ramaswamy’s work on apps granted her a full scholarship to attend Apple’s 2017/2018 Worldwide Developers Conference, where she got to meet Michelle Obama, discuss her apps with Apple CEO Tim Cook and interview with Karlie Kloss for TeenVogue.
To encourage girls to learn about STEM, Ramaswamy founded ThinkSTEAM, a nonprofit meant to bridge the gender gap in STEM through various workshops. ThinkSTEAM has partnered with several organizations (SWE, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Accenture, IBM, PepsiCo, Columbia University) to conduct technology workshops for girls and has reached around 1,000 girls to-date. ThinkSTEAM also conducts the Global ThinkBIG Challenge, a video contest that challenges girls to show why they should bridge the gender gap in STEM.
“I started coding the summer before sixth grade and since then I fell in love with computer science as a whole,” said Ramaswamy. “My mom taught me how to code since she’s also a software engineer. One of my favorite parts of engineering is being able to create something that can be simple yet so powerful.”
Click here to see a link to Ramaswamy’s video submission for the SWENext Global Innovator Award.
Anushka Saran is a Plano, Texas resident and a Plano Senior High School student. Saran has developed a passion for engineering from a young age, fascinated by its application in practically everything and eager to share her passion with the community. Saran has developed and expanded a student-run organization, Girls in STEM, that has hundreds of members and six locations. The organization educates members on STEM fields through guest speakers and workshops, while also encouraging younger girls to pursue their interests in STEM. As the president of the Jasper chapter and avid member of the organization’s leadership team, Saran has played a crucial role in Girls in STEM’s outreach, volunteering and hosting events.
In addition to Girls in STEM, Saran has worked as a teen tech intern at the Fort Worth Science and History Museum where she was given the opportunity to interact with young children and encourage them to pursue their interests in engineering. She is also part of her schools FTC Robotics Team as lead engineer. During her time with the team, they have advanced to super regionals for robotics competitions and received many awards. Saran also participates in the Plano Public Library’s teen leadership team, Teen Street Team. In this program, Saran plans and markets teen events in local libraries. Additionally, she is a member and teen coordinator of a non-profit organization, HSS, which works towards educating children about Indian culture while physically and mentally challenging them. This includes weekly sessions of games, stories, discussions and more.
In the future, Saran hopes to start another non-profit, discover more research opportunities and major in computer engineering.
“Despite the positive impacts of STEM, there aren’t many girls represented because of traditional gender stereotypes. This has led to a lack of exposure and encouragement. If I can be that person of support to just one young girl, that is so rewarding,” said Saran.
Click here to see a link to Saran’s video submission for the SWENext Global Innovator Award.
Sanjana Shah is a Cupertino, Calif. Resident and a Monta Vista High School student. Shah developed her interest in computer engineering while working on a research project of predicting water communication in her city’s drainage system. This Smart Flood Sensor led Shah to receive a President’s Environmental Youth Award at the White House. Shah has won other awards including the ACM Outstanding Young Women Award, the IEEE Electro-Technology Award, the ONR Medallion from the US Navy, the National Award in NCWIT’s Aspirations in Computing, and the Girl Scouts Gold Award.
Shah has interned at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs for the past two summers to develop new algorithms for a research project on Posit arithmetic. Team projects Shah has been involved with include the Brilliantile Snow Removal System and the Smart Wildfire Sensor, which was recognized in a blog post by the CEO of Google. Another team Shah is involved with is the NASA FIRST Robotics team. Shah’s involvement in robotics also includes being a team lead in MIT’s Zero Robotics competition.
When she is not spending time furthering her own engineering skills, Shah makes sure to give back to those in her community. Shah dreams of there being more girls involved in programming, and to further that dream, she teaches coding to girls at public libraries through the non-profit she started, Kids in Coding Inc. At school, Shah serves as Vice President of Technology in the Environmental Science Club. Shah has received community awards for her more than 500 hours of community service in the Cupertino area.
“I believe that life is all about growing and learning to be a leader,” said Shah. “I have participated in many SWE Outreach events starting from middle school, and I want to continue to pay it forward.”
Click here to see a link to Shah’s video submission for the SWENext Global Innovator Award.
Kate Stack is a Glenview, Ill. resident and Glenbrook South High School student. Stack began her SWE journey during her freshman year of high school. Since then, she has used engineering as her voice for activism and change in her community. In her work, Stack has combined her passions for STEM and the humanities.
One major accomplishment by Stack was inventing Epi-Spot, a stuffed animal that teaches others how to use an epinephrine auto-injector inspired by her own food allergies. The stuffed animal utilizes an Arduino and several other electronic components. Stack received the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) 2016 Young Innovator of the Year Award for her innovation. FARE offers teens the opportunity to present an innovative idea that would help improved the lives of people with food allergies at their annual conference. The prototype for Epi-Spot was also chosen for an Infosys Young Maker Award for which Stack received a $10,000 grant to help her local library start a makerspace for STEM programming.
Stack has given back to her community through her organization, Glenview’s Got STEAM, a community STEM program for young girls. Stack is currently working with her former middle school to start a SWENext chapter there, and was recently appointed as Treasurer of her high school chapter. When not working on her next engineering project, she enjoys SkillsUSA, photography and advocating for food allergy awareness.
“Another one of my passions is biomedical engineering,” Stack said. “Biomedical engineers combine all aspects of STEM in order to create medical devices and innovations to help those around them. One of my future goals is to be a biomedical engineer and work alongside researchers.”
Click here to see a link to Stack’s video submission for the SWENext Global Innovator Award.
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 www.swe.org or call 312.596.5223.