SWE ‘Sounding Board’: In a Room of Engineers…

Picture this: a room full of 9,000 women engineers ranging from first-year college students to seasoned, middle-level engineering managers. The excitement fills the air as these ladies fill the room, chat, and hustle to find their friends and meet new people. This is the first event of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) 2015 Conference, taking place in Nashville from Oct. 22 to 24.

The SWE Conference is the “world’s largest conference for women engineers,” as it says on its website. This year’s theme is “Reach Out to Reach Up,” a message of how women standing together and supporting each other can make dreams become reality. Voices Raised will be the sounding board for the 12 SWE-UD members traveling from Dayton to Nashville to experience the seminars, speakers, networking, professional development, and career fair opportunities this conference offers. Be ready to hear from all 12 members.

Here’s an overview of what happens:
Our 12 SWE-UD members pile into vans and drive down to Nashville on Wednesday. Thursday will be filled with seminars and speakers on every topic under the sun, related to collegiates, professionals, career movement and more. The keynote speaker is Nicola Palmer, the senior vice president and chief network officer for Verizon Wireless. Other seminars include “What to look for in an offer and how to personalize it,” “Overcoming the hype of 3D printing,” and “Mind the Confidence Gap: How to overcome fears of being a young professional in a technical environment.”

Thursday night will be busy with “Hospitality Suites,” where companies from the career fair each take over a room (similar to the conference rooms in KU) and host open networking hours – a great way to talk one-on-one with a couple of your top companies before the career fair even starts. Friday consists of even more seminars and “lightening talks,” shorter talks on hot technology or topics in engineering, and, most importantly, the massive career fair. Over 290 companies will be represented at this year’s fair. Everyone from NASA and Google to Boeing and Praxair (and 286+ more companies) will chat and interview the over 9,000 SWE members that attend. Talk about a lot of awesome opportunities at your fingertips. Friday night will conclude with a night of exploring, as the SWE-UD section carries on it’s annual tradition of eating dinner one night with all our members at a local restaurant.

Saturday continues with even more great speakers, volunteering opportunities at the annual “Invent it Build it” event for middle school girls and their parents. This wonderful event promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers and opportunities to young girls, since most girls choose whether or not to continue studying science or math as a life dream when they are in middle school. This event provides parents with loads of information on how to keep their girls interested in math and science, as well as numerous hands-on activities and experiments for the girls to play with and try their hand at, all with some of the 9,000 SWE members that attend conference as their volunteers, role models, and activity helpers. Talk about inspiring.

Saturday evening concludes with the annual “Celebrate SWE!” awards and dinner event, where the collegiate scholarship winners and SWE award winners are recognized, and everyone celebrates and remembers the advances of women in engineering and is motivated to continue working in engineering. Then, the event turns into the dance party for all the collegiate members. Finally, the conference wraps up as everyone packs up and heads home on Sunday morning. And it’s back to the books.

You can follow @SWEtalk on Twitter and Instagram and look for #WE15 and #BeThatEngineer for daily content on SWE and WE15.


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