The University of Maine’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) connects women engineering students with one another to create a support system and a sense of community. SWE also allows students to network with other colleagues and established professional women in engineering. Across the nation and around the world, SWE is present on multiple campuses.
During SWE meetings, members do activities such as resume-building workshops, preparing for career fairs and working on career development skills.
A new development within SWE is that members do not have to be women. Anyone in engineering or with a major in STEM can join to feel a sense of community with others.
Three weeks ago, members attended WE21, the world’s largest conference for women engineers put on by the head SWE organization. The conference took place from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Meagan Dube, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, found the conference to be very beneficial, especially as a fourth-year student who is graduating soon.
“Some companies like NASA were there, and there were keynote speakers and CEOs from companies,” Dube said. “We were able to meet anyone that was there and overall it was like a 250-plus organization company career fair.”
Dube also finds a sense of empowerment and inclusion with being a part of SWE.
“It gives me a good group of friends who are in the same boat as me and I’m very thankful for that,” Dube said. “It’s also really empowering to see other people that are doing the same things as you and who are in the same mindset. Because my major has only about 10% of women, it’s nice to have that collaboration with others like me.”
Along with Dube, fourth-year civil and environmental engineering student Madeline Blair has also become very involved in SWE.
“To me, SWE is a support system,” Blair said. “I joined SWE my first year at UMaine and really enjoyed having a group of girls who understood why I love engineering. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to be a woman in engineering or just to be an engineering student in general, so it’s great to have a group of people who understand what you’re going through.”
Blair is an active member on the fundraising committee, and takes advantage of opportunities SWE provides to her and all the members.
“This is my second year serving as SWE’s fundraising committee chair,” Blair said. “I attended the conference in Indianapolis in October and had a great time. It was an amazing and empowering event.”
Not only is Blair involved in the organization, but takes advantage of the benefits SWE has to offer when it comes to being involved in the community as well.
“SWE is often invited to volunteer at the Challenger Center in Bangor, so I’ve been able to volunteer at their Halloween event for the past two years and help with their Spud Drive, packing science fair kits,” Blair said.
As a fourth-year, SWE is helping Blair reach her goals for after graduation by allowing her to network and connect with employers.
“Since I’m currently a [fourth-year] looking for a job, SWE has helped connect me to several companies and helped me get job interviews at places I don’t think I would have without SWE,” Blair said.
Aside from attending meetings this semester, the members of SWE have also been busy with their new Press Release Committee. Dube is the chair of the Press Release Committee and hopes it will help get the word out about happenings in the organization easier and reach more people.
“Last year I was the co-outreach chair for SWE,” Dube said. “We did so many outreach events and it became a lot to keep publicizing all of them and try to get the public involved, so we came up with this press release chair committee. We now email the newsletters, or press releases, we create to get the word out there. This way we won’t forget people when trying to reach out to everyone individually.”
The press release sent out by SWE gets updated each month by the Press Release Committee about what is going on within the organization, what the public can attend or participate in and overall a summary of the club and what it’s doing.
Coming up, the members of SWE at UMaine are congratulating those receiving the certificate of merit. One woman in Grade 12 of high school receives this certificate for excelling in their science and math courses.
“It’s our way of saying congratulations for doing so well in their science and math classes and recognizing their achievements,” Dube said.
For more information on SWE and what they are up to in upcoming weeks, visit umaine.edu/swe.