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2020 WE Local Buffalo Celebrates Sixteen Award Recipients

SWE celebrates the winners of WE Local Buffalo virtually as WE Local was canceled in March due to COVID-19.
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This past March, we were unable to come together to recognize sixteen Award Recipients at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. However, SWE found another solution and that was to recognize each of them… via a blog. To learn more about each of the Awards and categories, visit the official WE Local Award announcement blog post.

Group Awards

Joint Professional/Collegiate Event Award

The first Group Award is the Joint Professional/Collegiate Event Award. The Joint Professional/Collegiate Event Award is jointly bestowed upon a professional SWE Group and a Collegiate SWE group who have planned and implemented a joint SWE event between the two groups. Congratulations to SWE Central Indiana Professional Section and IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) SWE Section!

“WOW! That’s Engineering” is an outreach event dedicated to 4th through 8th graders in hopes to inspire, excite and expose students to the fascinating work done by STEM professionals. From catapults, bath bombs to programming a friend (think, computer science!) and unclogging an artery, this event features seven (total) hands-on activities. With 36 volunteers, SWE Central Indiana and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis hosted 100 students and parents/educators in one-day!

Sustaining Benefactor Award

Next, we recognize the “Sustaining Benefactor” award recipient. The Sustaining Benefactor Award recognizes organizations that have provided significant support to SWE members and/or a SWE group through either financial methods or through volunteerism. Congratulations, Collins Aerospace!

Collins Aerospace is an example of how companies can support SWE, organizationally as well as financially. Collins offers their SWE Members support by encouraging professional development through networking events as well as conference attendance and participation. Collins also matches employee donations to SWE at a 100% donation amount! By utilizing a Collins grant, SWE Hartford awards an annual $1,000 scholarship to a deserving high school senior.

Outstanding Professional Development Event Award

The next Award is the “Outstanding Professional Development Event”. This award recognizes a group or groups who plan and- carry out a high-quality professional development event to help women achieve their professional goals. Congratulations, Cornell Society of Women Engineers *and* University of Pittsburgh!

Cornell’s Society of Women Engineers hosts the annual Professional Networking Dinner (PND) where over 150 undergraduate and graduate students and up to 40 companies come together for an evening of networking and fundraising. PND’s success has allowed the Section to host additional events on campus and around the community as well as provide 100% travel support to 20 of its members to attend SWE’s Annual Conference.

“Women in STEM” is the University of Pittsburgh’s annual event that draws in over 100+ STEM interested high school students as well as collegiate and professionals from all disciplines and career levels. This one-day event provides attendees with topics and themes that aim to break down stereotypes but also show women can make a difference. Seventy-one percent of attendees rated the event as “Very Good” or “Excellent”.

Congratulations, Group Award Recipients!


Individual Award Recipients – Collegiate

Guiding Star Award

As a recipient of this Award, students have been recognized for their exceptional collegiate leadership, the contributions they have made to not only SWE but the engineering community, campus and local area. Recipients of the Guiding Star have also been SWE members for at least two years at the end of the previous fiscal year. Congratulations Alice Connelli, Madeline Dubelier, Tracy Goldman, Catherine Gurecky, Jessica Stieglitz and Olivia Wanless!

Alice Connelli is a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute pursuing two degrees, one in biomedical engineering and another in mechanical engineering. Since her freshman year, Alice has been devoted to being a member of SWE and currently serves as the Corporate Relations Director where she has single handedly secured $13,000 in sponsorship. Alice proudly serves her campus community by mentoring undergraduate students for “Introduction to Cellular Molecular Biology.”

As a senior at Cornell University, Madeline Dubelier is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Education. As president of SWE’s Cornell Section, Madeline is looking to improve membership growth and is working with Student Services to better “SWEek of Welcome!” Madeline serves an Ambassador for Engineering Admissions Department working with incoming students and families to improve diversity recruiting initiatives. Academically, Madeline has earned Dean’s List recognition each semester!

Tracy Goldman is a senior at Cornell University studying Computer Science with a minor in creative writing. As a two-term Outreach Director, Tracy is driven to inspire junior leaders and young girls in the community. Tracy has received recognition for her gaming designs by being invited to BostonFIG’s Independent game festival. It is her aspiration to see a world where women pursuing STEM is the norm.

Catherine Gurecky’s commitment to serving Cornell University and the community is contagious. As a senior studying Chemical Engineering, Catherine has established a clear platform: every Cornell SWE member will feel valued. Catherine mentors a class of 20 freshmen and 100 peer advisors as well as serves as a TA. Catharine received early admission to Cornell’s Master of Engineering program and has begun taking classes toward this curriculum.

Jessica Stieglitz is a fifth-year Ph.D. student at Tufts University studying Chemical and Biological Engineering. Jessica discovered SWE as an undergraduate student at RPI and thrived in the community of support is offered. As a result, Jessica co-founded two groups at Tuft, the graduate SWE group and BEaChES, Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Society. Jessica is committed to serving SWE’s community by addressing needs that often go unaddressed.

Olivia Wanning is a selfless leader studying Electrical Engineering with a minor in business at Kettering University. Committed to spreading the knowledge and passion for engineering, Olivia dedicates her summers mentoring 11th readers and co-leading fellow mentors for, Lives Improve Through Engineering and Science. Olivia also upholds exemplary academic standards by making the Dean’s List every school term and has been inducted into two Honor Societies.

Congratulations, Collegiates!

Individual Awards- SWE Professional Members

WE Local New ELiTE Award

We recognize SWE Professional members starting with the WE Local New ELiTE award. ELiTE is an acronym for Emerging Leader in Technology & Engineering. This award honors women who have demonstrated outstanding technical performance, as well as leadership in SWE and the community, in the first ten (10) years of their career. Congratulations, Zaineb Ahmad and Masroor Khan!

As a Systems Engineer at Collins Aerospace, Zaineb Ahmad draws on her background in Human Factors Engineering to address projects, tasks and assignments. Zaineb is currently serving her second term as Dallas’ Section President where she actively participates in outreach activities from volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House to providing guidance to NextGen Engineers. Zaineb is an example of what a leader can be.

As an Engineer at Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), Masroor Khan is the “go-to” engineer for taking on challenging projects. Masroor improved and streamlined processes for the Transformer Monitoring Program which saved PSEG over $16 million on operating and maintenance costs. As a SWE LCC Coach, she empowers 11 collegiate section leaders to sustain the Section’s vitality by answering questions methodically yet with utmost warmth and interest.

WE Local ELiTE Award

This award honors women engineers who have been actively engaged in an engineering or technology profession and have ten to fifteen years of cumulative engineering experience. Congratulations, Sireesha Akula and Amanda Weissman!

Sireesha Akula began her career at Intel where she set herself apart for driving and developing products and platforms by working cross-functionally and vertically to increase confidence on product validation. Sireesha has been entrusted with Intel’s most challenging accounts where disengagement and lost revenue were prevalent. With her ability to view information systematically as well as debug critical problems, Sireesha was responsible for over $70 million in revenue.

Amanda Weissman is a Combat Systems Design architect at Lockheed Martin where is she is responsible for supporting the U.S. Navy and five foreign Navies. By providing a vision along with a roadmap to 65+ engineers across 16 teams, Amanda delivers quality results, on schedule. Amanda has defined an organizational structure to increase knowledge transfer as employee’s turnover into leadership positions or new employees join teams.

Engaged Advocate Award

This award honors individuals within the following categories who have contributed to the advancement or acceptance of women in engineering in K-12 Educator; Collegiate Educator/SWE Faculty Advisor/SWE Counselor; Entrepreneur; or STEM Professional. Congratulations, Sandy Ilievski!

Sandy Ilievski is an influential leader in improving and supporting STEAM, finding it imperative to share with students grades 4 through 8. Through speaking events, Sandy has discovered the importance of having parents talk to students about STEM by merging the communication gap. In addition, she believes mentoring is important for women so they can share their experiences including hardships. Sandy is what we call a STEAM champion.

WE Local Legacy Award

Lastly, the WE Local Legacy Award recognizes SWE members who have made a significant contribution(s) to the Society of Women Engineers at all levels of the Society and the engineering profession for at least fifteen (15) years. Congratulations, Dr. Diane Peters!

Dr. Peters serves as a tireless advocate for the academic community. Whether this is serving as Chair for SWE’s Women in Academia (WIA) or representing WIA in multiple roles, her passion is paramount. Professionally, Dr. Peters is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University and is recognized as “Kettering Built” which means to convey excellence. Kettering staff see Dr. Peters as an individual who embodies this phrase in everything she does.

Congratulations, Award Recipients!


Our Guests

Finally, at the Awards dinner, SWE recognizes a special group called “Our Guests” as they attended the awards ceremony with the award recipient. However, for blog purposes, “Our Guests” are those people who provided the support, encouragement and motivation to help our Award Recipients get to where they are today. This can include mentors, supervisors, family members, friends (four-legged included!) and others. However, since we cannot come together a PDF version of the slideshow will have to do. Therefore, thank you for also supporting SWE’s mission work!

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