Announcing PEP Panelists for Invent It. Build It. at WE19

WE19 will be here before you know it, and we're excited to announce the Parent Educator Program (PEP) panelists for Invent It. Build It. have been selected!
Invent It. Build It. Update

Invent it. Build it. (and its accompanying Parent Educator Program) is an experience designed to encourage girls to choose a career in engineering. This year’s event will take place at WE19 on Saturday, November 9 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Encouraging girls to pursue engineering is achieved through a three-pronged approach:

  1. SWE Girls Program
  2. Parent Educator Program (PEP)
  3. EXPO

All girls registered for the SWE Girls Program will participate in a hands-on engineering experience with members of the Society of Women Engineers. While the girls are having fun building and inventing, parents and educators will learn about engineering careers, scholarships, college admission and resources.

Parent Educator Program (PEP) for adult advocates

Parents, guardians, teachers, counselors, administrators and leaders are encouraged to participate in the PEP. The program will run from 9am – 4pm. Participants are asked to stay for the entire program.

Parents and educators will:

  • Learn about engineering careers, scholarships, college admission and resources
  • Network with SWE members as well as other parents and educators
  • Participate in a panel discussion with select SWE members and outreach experts
  • Complete a hands-on activity and learn best practices for engineering projects with girls
  • Explore the Invent it. Build it. EXPO
  • Have lunch with the SWE engineers (lunch provided)
  • Get an Invent it. Build it. t-shirt
  • Join the girls at the end of the day for show and tell, raffles and pictures

Panel discussion guests:


PEP Panelist Sadaf Qazi headshotSadaf Qazi

Sadaf holds an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.  She has spent the last 10 years working in the Defense industry supporting the system lifecycle of large-scale DoD platforms from design development to sustainment. Currently she is working for Booz Allen Hamilton as a Lead Associate for the Aerospace Account in Lexington, MA. She has been a speaker at many outreach events on topics of advocating for women engineers and creating mentoring opportunities to support and guide students and educators’ journey through the STEM field.  She currently serves as the Chair of SWE’s Outreach Committee.


Mary Zeis

Mary Zeis

Mary has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.  She worked for Procter & Gamble for 31 years in Research & Development on brands such as Tide, Dawn, Crest, and Pampers, before retiring.  Mary is now a volunteer leader for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), with a focus on STEM Outreach activities.  She has served on SWE’s K-12 Outreach Committee for six years and is currently the Chair of the Student Programs (SWENext) Committee.  She is also the VP for STEM Outreach for the Pittsburgh professional SWE Section.


Natalie White headshotNatalie White

Natalie earned B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from Texas Christian University.  She has broad industry experience with over 14 years as a Software Engineer.  Today, she is an Enterprise Solutions Architect for Amazon Web Services. She has been an active member of SWE Professional Sections in her native Fort Worth, Texas and in Orange County CA where she is the President of the Orange County SWE section.  Outside of work Natalie enjoys hiking, swing dancing, sewing, knitting, and watching her two children discover the world around them.


Lara Childers headshotLara Childers

Lara is the Girl Scouts of Orange County (GSOC) STEM Manager.  She holds a Master’s degree in the Art of Teaching. She’s had a primary role in the development of the council’s STEM initiatives, which include GSOC’s annual STEM Expo led by GSOC’s Volunteer STEM Patrol, the STEM focused Council’s Own badges created in partnership with GSOC’s STEM Consortium, and INSPIRE, which is GSOC’s signature interactive multimedia program. INSPIRE gives girls the opportunity to learn about careers while developing an understanding of the importance of STEM.


Jesseca Martinez headshotJesseca Martinez

Jesseca was born in Los Angeles, CA where she quickly realized she enjoyed metropolitan cities! Her exposure to a big city led her to obtain a B.S. in Civil Engineering from UC Irvine in 2016 where she specialized in transportation and water resources engineering.  She is now a transportation engineer for HNTB Corporation in Santa Ana, CA, where she has contributed on various roadway, complex grade separation, and transit projects in Southern California.  She is also the Vice President Internal of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Orange County Chapter.


Leyla De Silva Riley headshotLeyla De Silva Riley

Leyla is executive director of the OC STEM initiative which is housed in the Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. In this role she works to foster Orange County’s economic competitiveness and sustainability by promoting STEM competencies across the educational continuum through the creation of public-private partnerships. She has also developed multiple programs focused on expanding project based and experiential learning opportunities for K12 students. These programs center on the growing maker movement and emerging technologies in the areas of fabrication and digital making.


Robin Jeffers headshotRobin Jeffers

Robin is the Senior Director of Undergraduate Student Affairs, Curriculum & Accreditation at the UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering.  She has a BA in Psychology and an MS in Education Administration from the University of Southern California.  She has worked at UC Irvine in Engineering as Director of the Center for Opportunities and Diversity in Engineering and later as the Director of Undergraduate Student Affairs.   Having worked with engineering students since 1986, Robin continues to find her greatest work-joy in watching her students walk across the stage at commencement with BS, MS and PhDs in engineering!

Learn more about WE19 and its outreach programs here:

SWENexters: Find Your Engineering SWEet Spot at WE19!

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  • Announcing PEP Panelists for Invent It. Build It. at WE19 PEP

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