A SWE Global Affiliate is a community of women engineers outside of the United States who wish to expand SWE’s mission of empowering 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 SWE members from all over the world, each SWE Global Affiliate also has an original story and unique point of view.
SWE HQ is excited to spotlight the SWE Universite Loyola Du Congo Affiliate, formed in March 2020 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We spoke with faculty advisor Ritha Lilyane Ntumba to learn about their activities and the importance of promoting engineering professions to women.
How did you become involved with the SWE Affiliate?
My director, who was on a work trip in the United States, had heard of you and was interested in starting an Affiliate, so we made the request on your website.
How does your community benefit from having a SWE Affiliate?
By promoting engineering professions in young girls. Before, we did not know how to show that engineering studies were not only for men. Since forming an Affiliate, the resources and support that we get from SWE have allowed us to figure out how to do this. Our university offers an environment where girls feel comfortable and happy to continue their studies in engineering fields, thanks to the campaigns and other activities that we organize.
What are some of SWE-ULC’s recent successes and accomplishments?
The girls took part in two science competitions where it was necessary to innovate in the field of technology. They had to carry out three projects: the improvement of a drone for rescue cases, a robot arm, and a phone holder making it easy to use a phone in the office. They came out as the winner!
Can you describe one of your SWE-ULC’s typical meetings or events?
We organized an event where we discussed with young students in order to show them that women also have a role in the technological evolution of their environment. We talked about the engineering training that our university organizes and the professions in which they come out. We showed them the various achievements of our students and also the achievements of some great female heads that some students thought were the achievements of men.
Do you have advice for anyone looking to get involved with SWE?
They say that to want is to be able and to a valiant heart nothing is impossible. I encourage anyone who wants to get involved. Promoting engineering professions among women is a passion for me and I will be happy that many share it.
Is there anything else about SWE-ULC you would like to share with the SWE Community?
We started as an Affiliate in 2020 and try to organize ourselves as best we can. We are alone in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I believe, and it is complicated to walk and move forward without a larger community, especially being a Francophone country, but as I said, with a valiant heart nothing is impossible. We will continue promoting SWE and engineering professions for women. Thank you to Dee Mannella, Dhanu Thiyag, and Emily Burnett for being available and to the whole SWE team for supporting us in this process.