Women Take Lead on Campus through SWE
International Women’s Day on March 8 may have passed, but with all of March being Women’s History Month, there is a monthlong focus on females. Here at Georgia Tech, women may be outnumbered, but their presence on campus does not reflect it.
One of Tech’s leading groups of women is the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). With more than 530 members, it is the second largest SWE section in the nation.
Established at Georgia Tech in 1958, SWE gives women the opportunity to form a tight-knit community where they can develop their interests in engineering and find support as they pursue professional goals.
To support professional development, SWE provides its members with technical development workshops, networking, and the opportunity to attend regional and national conferences.
The technical development workshops give members the chance to expand their knowledge beyond their major. The most recent event taught attendees how to code a personalized website using Microsoft’s Choose to Code program. Other events have involved introductions to Excel, AutoCAD, and Georgia Tech’s Invention Studio.
At SWE conferences, members can meet with potential employers and explore career fairs featuring hundreds of businesses. The events are held around the country at the regional and national level. Georgia Tech will host the 2017 Region D conference.
“I got my summer internship by attending the SWE regional conference in Nashville,” said Hannah Chen, an industrial engineering major and secretary for SWE at Tech. "After I attended the company's information session at the conference, I decided to approach one of the recruiters. I told her that I was interested in a summer internship and handed her my resume. She was impressed that I took the initiative to speak with her and the company ended up hiring me."
SWE focuses on empowering not only current members, but also the next generation of women in STEM fields through internal and external outreach events. One Saturday each month, girls in middle school or high school are invited to campus to participate in STEM-related activities. Similar activities are provided for elementary school students at a local charter school, Centennial Academy.
“I wish I had something like this when I was in high school,” Chen said. "Seeing older women in STEM fields makes it less intimidating to pursue a degree in engineering. It’s important for girls to know that they will have the support of other women in their field."
External outreach events are typically held off campus. SWE’s EAGLE7 Engineering Events teach children about various types of engineering and what they really involve, and SWE members answer the questions of younger students who are considering engineering.
Members of SWE also have the opportunity to form strong social networks through events such as the annual Engineer’s Ball, ice skating at Atlantic Station, or meeting graduate students who are part of Grad SWE.
Interested students can learn more or join SWE at www.swe.gtorg.gatech.edu. The organization accepts applicants regardless of major. Students are also welcome to stop a SWE meeting, held weekly on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Room 117 of the Student Services (Flag) Building.