A newsletter for alumni, students, and friends of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Society of Women Engineers Helps Students Realize Their Potential

Although men still outnumber women on the Engineering campus, the women's numbers are growing, thanks in part to the Society of Women Engineers student chapter.

SWE's membership is made up of students from all the engineering departments, including ME, and the organization offers its members the support and camaraderie necessary for them to complete their degrees and to successfully begin their engineering careers.

According to this year's SWE president, Maura Jenkins, 211 students were on the membership roster last academic year, and she expects the number to be even larger this year. She said that the group is part social society and part professional society. They kick off the year with a picnic to welcome incoming freshman and to pair them with experienced SWE members in a "Big Sib/Lil Sib" mentoring program. Throughout the year, SWE members advise these new engineering students and help them to learn to balance fun with work.
SWE members at student fair

Matt Bruehl, publicity chair; Amie Diffenauer (standing), program chair; Maura Jenkins, president; and Carolina Castellanos staff a booth at the Student Organizational Fair, October 1. (37K JPG)

Heather Wagner, an ME senior, is in charge of the mentoring program this year. She has found SWE to be helpful. "I'm able to see that there are quite a few women in engineering, even though when I'm sitting in my mechanical engineering classes, I see only a couple other females." Wagner says that her first contact with SWE came when she was still in high school in Green Bay. She participated in the SWE-hosted "Day on Campus," an event that brings girls and their parents to UW-Madison and the College of Engineering. She said that this event was better than the usual campus tours because she was able to talk with women engineering students already on campus.

As SWE mentoring chair, Heather organized informal lunch gatherings last year for ME women students, and invited ME Professors Karen A. Thole and Nicola J. Ferrier as guests.

With an eye on future jobs, SWE sponsors "An Evening with Industry" in February of each year. Forty-six companies were represented at the last "evening," and 150 students attended. The organization has the added advantage of being allied with professional chapters of SWE that can facilitate coop arrangements and send speakers and recruiters to the regular student chapter meetings.

Debra Buelow, an ME senior graduating in December, said that she landed her second engineering internship because one of her friends from SWE who had recently graduated suggested to the recruiters that they interview her. "I now have an offer for a permanent position with this company," she said.

In addition to hosting industry speakers, the SWE student chapter last year conducted plant trips to Harley-Davidson, Nicolet Instruments, and Ford Motor Company. They also held professional workshops and will again this year, focusing on such topics as financial planning and how to dress for success.

On a social level, the SWE members will be involved in intramural volleyball and flag football, progressive parties, and more picnics.

ME Newsletter is a periodic publication of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Correspondence should be sent to the address below.

ME Newsletter
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1513 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706-1572

      Editor: Gail Gawenda

Designer: Lynda Litzkow

Last Modified: Tuesday, 20-Jan-1998 15:58:32 CST

NOVEMBER 1997 Contents