SWE has over 300 collegiate Sections and Affiliates, all who strive to empower women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion. While these shared goals and values unite us, each SWE group also has an original story and unique point of view.
SWE HQ is excited to spotlight one of our newest sections, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We spoke with UNC Chapel Hill’s Co-Founder and FY21 President Brenna Harrison so we can get to know them and introduce their section to our SWE community. Welcome to SWE, UNC Chapel Hill!
How does your school benefit from having a SWE Section?
Uniting women interested in STEM and engineering together creates a sense of community on campus. We are excited to have recently become nationally recognized and are eager to continue growing.
COVID-19 has led to most college classes and activities taking place online. How have you adapted to leading your group virtually?
Lots of virtual events and making the most of Zoom meetings with ice breaker games, topic lessons, and updates.Our all female STEM panel was a big success and we will be making this an annual event. We had professionals from industry and academia speak with our members. Specifically we had a representative from Pfizer and NC FasTraCS and several professors from the UNC Biomedical Engineering Department. Each speaker explained their interest in STEM and their experiences being a woman in a male-dominated field. We discussed scenarios of gender discrimination in the workplace and how to respectfully and professionally speak up for yourself.
We also collaborated with North Carolina State University and had Google speak with us about how to excel in virtual interviews and tips for navigating the virtual internship/career world. In the fall of 2020, we collaborated again with NCSU and held an “Invention Night”. At “Invention Night” we broke into teams and were tasked with designing an invention to solve various problems. This event was a huge success and our members really enjoyed this activity.
Do you have any advice for other engineering students looking to start a new SWE Section or Affiliate at their school?
Go for it and stay organized!