SWE HQ is excited to spotlight the North Carolina A&T State University SWE Section during Black History Month. North Carolina A&T is an HBCU – a historically Black college or university whose principal mission is the education of Black Americans. Offering 10 ABET accredited undergraduate programs, 8 M.S. programs, and 5 Ph.D. programs, the College of Engineering is committed to excellence in engineering and computer science.
We spoke with Paige Michals, President of the North Carolina A&T SWE Section, to learn more about the SWE community on campus.
What motivated you to become involved with SWE at your school?
I attended an extremely small high school, so coming to a University the size of North Carolina A&T was a little daunting at first. As I entered into the College of Engineering, the reality of engineering being a male dominated field quickly set in. My roommate had heard about SWE and invited me to our section’s first meeting. From the moment I entered the room I had fallen in love with the section. Since joining my freshman year, this section of SWE has given me a community within the field of engineering and molded me into the leader I am today.
How does your school benefit from having a SWE Section?
The campus of North Carolina A&T benefits from the community and perspective that our section brings. Being able to provide fellow women engineers with a community of like-minded women has helped support students regardless of what field of engineering they’re entering into. The perspective of this section and its members is also unique compared to the other organizations we have on campus. We’re able to create unique programs that help to address some of the issues we face both on and off campus.
Can you describe one of your group’s typical meetings or events?
Our typical meetings start out with an icebreaker to loosen the room up and set the atmosphere for our topic of the night. After our icebreaker, we move into the content of the program. Our programs cover a wide range of topics that seek to develop members both professionally and personally. These include topics such as financial literacy, game nights, interview/resume tips, panels focused on real talk, and so much more. After we move through the content of the program, we ask the room for any questions and dismiss. During dismissal our executive board hangs back to answer any additional questions and to socialize with attendees.
How has your group honored Black History Month this year or in past years?
We honor Black History Month through highlights within our programs. We call out a contribution made to society from a Black female or male engineer. As an HBCU section, Black History Month is a University wide celebration including the celebration of Ronald McNair. As a section, we place a larger emphasis on Women’s History Month since this is not as recognized.
What advice can you offer to young women or non-binary students who are considering a STEM major?
Keep going. As simple as that may seem, it is the best piece of advice I could offer. When you set out to join a group that is typically underrepresented, you will face so much adversity and want to give up more times that you’ll be able to count. The classes are difficult, the support can be minimal, you may be the only one who looks like you in the room, you may get looked over, and so much more. The weight of the world is on your shoulders and sometimes it gets heavy, but you have to keep going. You never know who you will inspire.
Keep up with the North Carolina A&T SWE Section by following them on Instagram!