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SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group

Each month throughout the year, we'll be spotlighting a different SWE Affinity Group (AG). For the month of May (and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!), we are excited to highlight SWE's Asian Connections Affinity Group!

Each month throughout the year, we’ll be spotlighting a different SWE Affinity Group (AG). The SWE Affinity Groups’ (AGs) mission is to bring together communities that share similar interests and backgrounds that support the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategic goals of SWE.

SWE Affinity Group goals:

  • Develop a sense of community in the Affinity Groups fostering an inclusive environment where people discuss experiences in their engineering career, online and offline.
  • Provide professional development opportunities enabling and sponsoring leadership experiences, networking and mentorship.
  • Empower members through highlighting accomplishments and supporting diversity in the SWE Leadership pipeline, Awards, and Scholarships.

SWE Affinity Groups are organized into DE&I AGs and Business Interests AGs. DE&I AGs are focused on the needs of social minority populations and support initiatives tailored to serve these communities. Business Interest AGs are loosely centered around the members’ business environment and career experiences.

For the month of May, we are excited to highlight SWE’s Asian Connections Affinity Group, a DE&I AG.

Get to know the goals of the Asian Connections Affinity Group!

What are the overall goals of the Asian Connections Affinity Group?

  • To support and empower those with an Asian Connection throughout their education and career through professional development, mentorship, and cultural competency
  • To assist in building cultural awareness to the general membership of the many Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander cultures and experiences 
  • To represent and connect members with similar backgrounds and cultures across global SWE Sections and Affiliates, both collegiate and professional 
  • To advocate for members with an Asian connection to take on leadership roles at various levels throughout engineering and technology
  • To provide mentoring and encourage SWE members with an Asian perspective to pursue and accept Society leadership roles
  • To increase the membership and leadership of Asian women in engineering

Does the Asian Connections Affinity Group have regular meetings? If so, when and how often? What takes place during a typical meeting?

We have quarterly leadership meetings and monthly community events for members to network and connect. During leadership meetings, our leads discuss goals for the AG, our successes of the past quarter, as well as methods for growing and improving the AG. Our monthly community events can range from socials, such as game nights and happy hours, to personal or professional development events, such as community forums and fireside chats. 

How is the Asian Connections Affinity Group working to reach and include new members?

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) engineers constitute the largest minority group in SWE. As a result, we have a broad reach and aim to represent all who have an Asian Connection, including our global community members. We have been more conscious of event times to consider those in different time zones.  We hope to utilize social media to grow our membership even more!

Why is the Asian Connections Affinity Group important to its members?

The members of this group have diverse experiences, from residing currently in an Asian country to immigrant to many generations in a western country. We also want to support inclusion of those who do not have an Asian heritage, but grew up or are currently in an Asian country. As our members have unique connections to Asian culture and upbringing, we decided to name our community the “Asian Connections” Affinity Group. Our AG is an open, welcoming safe space for members to feel more in touch with  their community, share resources for success, and strengthen their Asian connections. 

Where would you direct those interested in joining or learning more about the Asian Connections Affinity Group?

You can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn (page and group), and Instagram.

Meet the Asian Connections Affinity Group members!

Le Si (LEE-see) Qu

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupMechanical Engineer

SWE role: Lead, Asian Connections Affinity Group

SWE member since: 2015

Asian Connection: Chinese American

Le Si (LEE-see) Qu [she/her] recently graduated with her bachelors in mechanical engineering from Stony Brook University. She is a first-generation college graduate and child of immigrants. Le Si has been highly involved with SWE for the past five years at the section and societal level. She has held leadership positions within her local sections, Society committees, and within the Affinity Groups (AG). She was the founding Co-Lead for the Asian Connections AG in FY20 and the current FY21 Lead. 

On campus, Le Si has served as an engineering peer mentor, president of the robotics team and chairperson of the aerospace student organization. Some of her projects include a miniature Mars rover, fixed-wing electric aircraft, high-powered rocket, and bioelectric prosthetic hand. She is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, uplifting others, continuous improvement, and SWE! Her aspiration is to work on a project that will reach the expanses of space. 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Everyone is on their own unique path in life. Your journey is your own and remember to reflect often to see how far you’ve come. And remember you can do anything except everything all at once.

Ranul Jain

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupChemical Engineer 

SWE role: Social Media Lead, Asian Connections Affinity Group and SWE Global Ambassador

SWE member since: 2019

Asian Connection: Indian

Ranul Jain graduated as a chemical engineer from a National University in India in 2018. Along with a bachelor’s degree, she also pursued a 2-year technical entrepreneurship diploma from the Indian School of Business. Right after graduation, Ranul started working with ExxonMobil as a process engineer, designing processes and equipment for Greenfield LNG projects. Since December last year, she has been working as a business advisor for the Work Migration team. She is passionate about ‘sustainability’ as an engineer and wants to incorporate the idea of sustainability as a design goal rather than a requirement. On the weekends you can find Ranul outdoors — hiking, trekking, running or chasing butterflies. 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Because of the limited available opportunities, girls from a young age are taught to be fiercely competitive. My advice to all women (and men) is to have each other’s back! Be someone who lifts other women, whenever you can: support, trust, encourage and empower each other. Whether you are a university student or a working professional – build a strong network of women within your organisation.

Stephanie Yum

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupQuality Engineer

SWE role: SWE Senator

SWE member since: 2007

Asian Connection: Chinese (Singaporean)

Stephanie Yum is a quality engineer at the GLOBALFOUNDRIES Semiconductor Fab in Essex Vermont where she has worked for 10 years. Starting as a photolithography process engineer, Stephanie switched career paths after five years and decided to take a job as a customer-facing quality engineer. This role was extremely rewarding, and enabled her to gain a broader understanding of the semiconductor industry. Through that role, she was able to take a short term assignment as a supplier quality & lithography liason in France, a role she had to fulfill remotely due to COVID. Stephanie is currently back at the Essex, VT Fab working as a manufacturing quality engineer. Stephanie is active in the GLOBALWomen network at her company as well as a founding member of the ASIA ERG and has collaborated on a project to improve sitewide DEI practices. Stephanie has held numerous positions in SWE leadership, most recently serving five years in the Senate, and has just been elected as SWE Senate Secretary for FY22. Stephanie is the vice chair of the Racial Inclusivity for SWE Equity (RISE) senate subteam. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys dancing, hiking, biking, gardening and photography. She hopes to find another opportunity to fulfill her dream of living outside of the country someday!  

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Be deliberate with your time! Working as a customer-facing engineer was such a fast-paced job that I often needed to influence many stakeholders and reach decisions quickly in an effort to meet customer and business needs. There wasn’t time for an ineffective meeting. As a result, I learned to walk into every meeting asking myself “What is my purpose here? What do I need? What do I hope to accomplish?” That sort of mindfulness helped me walk into any room with purpose and a plan; it gave me the conviction to speak up when important decisions were being made and also gave me the clarity to skip meetings that I didn’t need to be in. I now strive to have that sense of mindfulness with all of the ways I use my time. 

Vidya Chamundeswari Narasimhan

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupBio Engineer

SWE role: Leadership Team,  Asian Connections Affinity Group

SWE member since: 2019

Asian Connection:  Indian (bachelor’s and master’s degrees completed in India; doctoral degree completed in Singapore)

Dr. Vidya graduated in 2013 from SASTRA University, India with an integrated masters’ degree majoring in medical nanotechnology and bioengineering. She went on to pursue a research doctorate from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore with the Nanyang Research Scholarship and graduated in 2018 with a Best Thesis Commendation Award. Her PhD focused on developing bioactive polymeric scaffolds for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration applications. She has interned at reputed institutions such as MIT- Harvard, National Chemical Laboratory (India) and spearheaded various academia-industrial collaborative projects during her postdoctoral term in Singapore in 2019. She was the title winner of the Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition (Australia, 2017), and a finalist at the Falling Walls Lab Competition (Singapore, 2019).

Over the last couple of years, Vidya has been actively involved in research projects pertaining to sustainability within the agro-food sector, in addition to following her interests in the biomedical engineering domain. She enjoys traveling, reading and Indian classical music. She currently holds the portfolio of Lead Scientist – Bio Materials Engineering Division at New Age Meats, an upcoming cell-based meat company and is focused on reshaping and reinventing the future of cell-based meat.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Listen to your heart, it knows! 

Nicole Woon

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupProgram Manager

SWE role: Editorial Board Member

SWE member since: 2010

Asian Connection: Chinese

Nicole Woon is a program manager at Microsoft working on well-crafted SharePoint site features. She is an active SWE Life Member and currently serves on the SWE Magazine editorial board. Previously, she’s served on a variety of local and society-level SWE committees related to collegiate engagement, conferences, and professional development. She also enjoys volunteering for onboarding and early-in-career programs at her company. Nicole graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an M.S.E. (mechanical engineering) and two B.S.E.s (bioengineering, entrepreneurial management). Outside of work, she loves exploring Seattle’s rich culinary scene, creating handmade greeting cards, and playing trivia (especially related to Disney, musicals, and pop culture). 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Share your voice and perspective in a way that’s authentic to you. Also, trust your gut – it’s amazing how accurate that intuition can be! 

Arpita Abrol

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupSoftware Engineer

SWE role: Member, Asian Connections Affinity Group

SWE member since: 2019

Asian Connection: Indian

Arpita is an associate software engineer on the Media Services Team at Disney Streaming. There, she works on services core to ensuring a user is authenticated and being shown the correct videos. Arpita is a recent graduate from Stony Brook University (’20), where she majored in computer science. As a student, she was heavily involved with the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) and peer mentoring organizations. 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Explore outside of your professional interests! Try something new, like traveling (or studying abroad), learning to dance, or crafting.

Tuyet-Hanh Schnell

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupSystems Engineer

SWE role: Cultural Lead, Asian Connections Affinity Group and Planning and Nomination Committees, Southern NJ Section

SWE member since: 2004

Asian Connection: Vietnamese 

Tuyet-Hanh graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a B.E. in electrical engineering. She also received her M.S. in electrical engineering from Drexel University. This year, she will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her graduation from Stevens and the 25th anniversary of her graduation from Drexel! Additionally, she just celebrated her 30-year anniversary at Lockheed Martin (LM). Tuyet-Hanh began her career as a co-op student working on GPS-IIR satellites. She went on to work in a variety of engineering disciplines including surface mount board design, VME backplane design, FPGA design, firmware development, software engineering, and systems engineering. She has worked the full development cycle from initial concept and proposal to full system demonstration and lifetime support. Tuyet-Hanh currently serves as one of the product leads for an Aegis development program for the Japanese Navy and has traveled extensively to Japan. She finds that her Asian background made it easier for her to adapt to the customs of Japan. She also serves as an agile coach for her business area supporting all Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) locations throughout the US. She recently completed her term as the RMS lead for the Women’s Impact Network (WIN) Business Resource Group (BRG) at LM, serving 22 locations. Tuyet-Hanh is now a co-lead of the inaugural WIN Awards program to recognize the achievements of the women of LM, with the first awards presented in March. She is also active in the Professional Asian American Network (PAAN) BRG and served on the planning committee for the 2021 PAAN Leadership Forum that had the highest recorded registration to date. She also sings in the company choir, the Moorestown Music Makers. In her spare time, Tuyet-Hanh enjoys doing STEM outreach activities with local students.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

My advice is to never stop learning and growing. Six years ago, I took a new position in a technical area where I had no experience. It was a great opportunity for me to learn, even with over 20 years of experience. On the flip side of that advice is one to not move around too quickly. Make sure that you stay long enough to experience everything that position has to offer before you move onto the next.

Kristine Loh

SWE Community Spotlight: Asian Connections Affinity Group - Asian connections affinity groupChemical Engineer

SWE role: Community Lead 

SWE member since: 2015

Asian Connection: 2nd Generation Singaporean American

Kristine Loh (she/her) is a first-year chemical engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a College of Science and Engineering Fellow. As a member of the Ferry and Kortshagen Lab Groups, her research focuses on luminescent nanoparticles for solar windows on greenhouses. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering and her M.S. in materials S]science and engineering from Drexel University in 2020, where she was heavily involved in undergraduate research and the Drexel SWE section. Kristine was born and raised in a town near Miami, Florida and in her free time, she enjoys experimenting with her air fryer, trying out new restaurants, and volunteering at K-12 STEM engagement events. 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share?

Take care of yourself! It’s OK to say “no” and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed. Being in STEM is hard, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone.

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