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SWE@UCLA’s Passion for Public Policy

As part of the Public Policy Affinity Group’s spotlight, learn more about this collegiate section’s civic engagement events and SWE’s Lobbying Committee.
SWE Community Spotlight: Public Policy Affinity Group
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Championing the empowerment of women engineers through civic engagement, University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) collegiate section of SWE hosts a Lobbying Committee, centered on connecting members’ passions for public policy advocacy to their technical backgrounds. This committee, the first of its kind within a collegiate organization, was founded in fall 2022 by Sam Basu, Laura Kubiatko, and Katelyn Lyle with support from SWE@UCLA President Hannah Wang. It invites all SWE@UCLA members who have an interest in legislative changemaking to learn more about the democratic process and engage directly as constituents on issues that matter to them.

Throughout the year, the Lobbying Committee organizes on-campus events to involve engineers and incite interest in public policy advocacy and career pathways. One of their quarterly events, Write for Rights, invites a group of around 40 engineers to learn about the legislative process and how to contact their state representatives. They also get the opportunity to research current legislation and find bills that intersect with their interests. In addition, other events highlight the different roles that engineers can play in shaping policy — connecting UCLA students to engineers serving in government positions, technical advisory committees, or even furthering their education in law school.

SWE@UCLA’s Passion for Public Policy
SWE@UCLA Lobbying Committee on their annual constituent lobbying trip in D.C. First Row: Samprikta Basu, Laura Kubiatko, Rachel Lee, Genevieve Chin, Luming Cao, Savannah Alanis. Second Row: Paige Wu, Jana Saadeh, Bri Nguyen, Tam Vo, and Ivy Kwok.

To environmental engineering Ph.D. candidate Ivy Kwok, her role in the Lobbying Committee is directly tied to her role as an engineer. “Engineering has a lot of layers that are interdisciplinary, and both engineers and policymakers all want to invent or create things that better society. We have the same motivation and carry it out in different ways,” she shares. As a constituent, she uses her platform as an engineer and researcher to advocate to her representatives about sustainability and hazardous pollutants.

This committee also hopes to rewrite expectations that many may associate with the term “lobbyist.”

“Our group aims to encourage and normalize constituent lobbying. We want to see ourselves and our fellow engineers involved in making change through their representatives,” said Director and civil engineering student Laura Kubiatko. “We want everyone to find empowerment in their many intersectional identities, including being a woman engineer.”

In addition, this committee collaborates with civic engagement-based UCLA organizations such as BruinsVote to encourage all students to be more involved with voting and to learn more about the democratic process. During the March primaries, the Lobbying Committee tabled for same-day voter registration and same-day voting.

SWE@UCLA’s Passion for Public Policy
SWE@UCLA Lobbying Committee with SWE Public Policy AG Director Jenny Tsao

To conclude the year, the Lobbying Committee along with several SWE@UCLA student leaders convened in Washington D.C., to speak directly with representatives on a constituent lobbying trip. This year, members’ topics ranged from Title IX protections, expanding K-12 and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) STEM education funding, environmental health monitoring, and AI image generation regulation were discussed. Committee members had the ability to put their practice to action, create meaningful dialogue with their representatives, and see how their voices truly have an impact.

This experience has been incredibly influential for pre-law materials engineering student Bri Nguyễn who shared, “I’ve learned how policy and engineering are more intertwined than I thought. As I continue on in my undergraduate studies, it is difficult to ignore policymaking as it continues to shape what my future [law] practice will become.”


Thank you all for reading, and please reach out to us at lobbying.swe.ucla@gmail.com with any further questions or inquiries.

If you have questions or want connect with others who are interested in public policy, you can post in SWE’s Public Policy AG Facebook Group or contact Jenny Tsao, Public Policy AG lead at publicpolicy.ag@swe.org. You can subscribe to the Public Policy AG’s email updates by logging in to your member portal and scrolling to Communication Preferences.

Authors

  • Samprikta Basu

    Samprikta Basu is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in computer science & engineering and minoring in film, television, and digital media. She’s been involved with the human rights organization Amnesty International USA as a student activist and member leader for the past five years and was inspired by the SWE community on campus to bring this advocacy experience to UCLA’s engineering school, and she will be serving as director of this coming year. She is passionate about the intersection of civic tech and finding ways to make engaging in grassroots advocacy more accessible via technology.

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  • Laura Kubiatko

    Laura Kubiatko is a graduating senior at UCLA, studying civil engineering and public health. She has been active in SWE since middle school and is so grateful for her experience serving as the Lobbying Committee Director for the past two years! Through SWE@UCLA, she's found a supportive community who shares her passion for advocacy and for expanding civic engagement amongst UCLA engineers. In the fall, she will be continuing her education in Stanford's environmental engineering PhD program. She also loves to Lion Dance on the UCLA team and birdwatch!

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  • Keep up the awesome work!

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