About two dozen, mostly women, pose around the Airbus booth in an expo hall, smiling at the camera. A couple people hold up a heart sign made with their hands. About two dozen, mostly women, pose around the Airbus booth in an expo hall, smiling at the camera. A couple people hold up a heart sign made with their hands.
SWE members enjoyed visiting the Airbus booth during the Society of Women Engineers’ WE23 event in Los Angeles.

SWE Looks Back at a Year of Empowering Women and Creating Communities
Story by Megan Chann, 2023-24 SWE Recruitment Chair

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The Society of Women Engineers Collegiate Section at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus is dedicated to the equal opportunity of women in the engineering workplace, as well as promoting the study of engineering.

The SWE section at Embry-Riddle offers opportunities for members to network with professionals, attend conferences, participate in outreach events, develop leadership skills and socialize with other women in engineering.

During the 2023-24 academic year, SWE members organized, hosted and participated in various events that showcased their commitment to the future of women in STEM. Recruitment Chair Megan Chann compiled this look at what SWE has been up to recently.

How Does SWE Support Women in Engineering?

During Women’s History Month, SWE celebrated the accomplishments and contributions of women in STEM fields, promoting gender equity and awareness of the critical role women play in these industries.

SWE members are all smiles as they get set for a General Meeting.SWE members are all smiles as they get set for a General Meeting.

Our Campus Events Committee organized a “Walk Through Women’s History Month” tabling event on International Women's Day, March 8, where we partnered with 13 other student groups to showcase educational displays dedicated to influential women in STEM.

This initiative aimed to raise awareness about gender equity and acknowledge the remarkable achievements of women in STEM throughout history. Moreover, this program involved SWE members participating in various activities throughout that month, demonstrating our commitment to empowering women and promoting diversity in STEM.

On March 20, members dressed in purple and white, symbols of loyalty, dignity and justice, to make a statement and raise awareness. We also collaborated with Pratt & Whitney to host a Women Empowerment/Resume workshop on March 27, while our joint effort with student organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in painting the Spirit Rock also helped raise awareness and promote inclusivity.

These events embody SWE's values of integrity, inclusivity, trust and professional excellence. By celebrating Women's History Month, we honor women's achievements in STEM and inspire future generations to pursue careers in these fields, contributing to greater diversity and inclusion.

SWE Gives Girls the Gift of STEM

To lead into Women’s History Month, SWE hosted its biggest outreach event on February 17 at the Daytona Beach Campus, with 40 volunteers and seven SWE committee members dedicating their time to lead the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” Workshop (IGEW).

The event brought over 140 third- through fifth-grade girls from around Volusia County to campus to engage in hands-on engineering activities.

Activities ranged from building marshmallow towers to learning about boat physics, and all of them helped demonstrate the practical applications of engineering in a relatable and enjoyable way.

As the sole funder of this event, SWE provided money for essentials such as IGEW T-shirts and lunch for all volunteers and participants, ensuring a memorable experience for everyone involved.

The IGEW event aligns with SWE's mission to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM by sharing knowledge and resources while contributing to advancing educational equity and fostering a sense of belonging among underrepresented groups in STEM.

Katie Swenson, who is graduating in 2024 with her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, served as SWE’s 2023-24 President.

“Being SWE president has been my favorite role at Embry-Riddle,” Katie said. “It helped me foster a community that allowed women to be heard and take steps in their journey in STEM. Not only were we able to reach college students, but elementary students as well. Leading the planning of IGEW was my favorite part of this year. I got to work with an amazing committee that worked tirelessly to ensure IGEW was special for everyone. Watching each girl learn and develop a lifelong love for learning was so special, and I hope they understand that they're capable of great things.”

How Else Does SWE Impact the Community?

SWE’s outreach work didn’t stop there. We also participated in the STEM Fair, a platform to engage and inspire over 120 local children by inviting them onto campus to explore the wonders of STEM. Through various activities displayed by SWE and other student organizations and research projects from students and professors, the STEM Fair provided an interactive experience, sparking inspiration among the community.

We also were involved in a tabling event for the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program, which enables students to talk directly to ISS astronauts. This was in addition to our participation in the Museum of Arts & Sciences “Space Day” and several visits to local schools that helped increase awareness of STEM opportunities for girls.

Eleven women casually dressed line up in front of a classroom with laboratory equipment.
SWE members during a visit to a local school to talk to girls about STEM.
Students help young girls with projects at several tables in a conference hall.
During the recent STEM Fair, SWE members worked with young girls from around the community and helped them discover a passion for science.

Does SWE Help Members Make Professional Connections?

Beyond our advocacy work, SWE also provides direct connections to some of the world’s top employers and helps members build professional networks and direct connections to industry leaders.

This year, SWE was involved in the Lockheed Martin Mentorship Program, Pratt & Whitney resume workshops and networking events, an American Airlines networking event and the Society of Women Engineers’ WE23 event in Los Angeles. A total of 37 SWE members were part of these events, securing 90 job interviews and landing 27 employment offers.

“SWE hosted several impactful professional events, each contributing to my personal and professional growth,” said Ashley Cathon, a rising junior majoring in Aerospace Engineering who will serve as SWE’s 2024-25 Professional Development Chair. “Among these events, WE23 was particularly instrumental in growing myself professionally because it allowed me to receive 12 internship offers for summer 2024, which I am immensely thankful for. Additionally, the Pratt & Whitney resume workshops and Lockheed Martin Mentorship Program that SWE coordinated were valuable for providing me with direction in selecting a suitable internship and understanding corporate expectations. As Professional Development Chair, I am committed to expanding our outreach by inviting more companies to campus to discuss internship opportunities and to offer resume support and interview preparation workshops. I look forward to witnessing further growth in SWE!”

SWE Keeps the Focus on the Future

SWE is also deeply involved on the Daytona Beach Campus, and our “SWEek” recruitment events include an open house, field day and fun activities such as karaoke and DIY sugar scrub and mask making.

We also visited EGR 101 classrooms and were part of the Registered Student Organization Showcase and E-Week, among other campus events. In addition, we registered two “SWENext” clubs in the Daytona area, forming connections with younger girls interested in engineering/science and competitions and paving the way for many opportunities in the future.

During the past academic year, we had eight fundraisers, including bake, slime and plant sales, along with raffles featuring prizes such as LEGO bouquets and model planes. We even designed new merchandise, giving our members another opportunity to represent SWE.

Altogether, we made over $2,500 on fundraising this year, not including corporate donations.

The social aspect of SWE is addressed too, and we routinely get together for things such as Ice Cream Karaoke, Starbucks Wednesdays, ice skating and Women in Aviation International Karaoke Night. We also hold a yearly banquet to celebrate our accomplishments and each other.

In addition to their work in class, on campus and in the community, SWE members also know how to enjoy themselves as they do here during a recent Ice Cream and Karaoke event.In addition to their work in class, on campus and in the community, SWE members also know how to enjoy themselves as they do here during a recent Ice Cream and Karaoke event.

While SWE members are dedicated to the mission no matter what, it is nice to see our section and members singled out for recognition among the many outstanding students and groups at Embry-Riddle.

This year, we were honored to earn the IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Advocacy) award in addition to being acknowledged with the Community Building, the Eagle Service and the Exceptional Eagle awards, along with being named an Outstanding Diversity Program.

On top of that, SWE members also stood out by earning individual accolades:

  • The Ascending Eagle - Ashley Cathon
  • Eagle Service Awards - Katie Swenson, Logan Price
  • Academic Excellence Award - Lynn Boudani
  • Elite Eagle - Jessica Sammons
  • Outstanding Advisor - Professor Claudia Ehringer Lucas

The SWE members who are graduating this year look back fondly on wonderful memories of the experiences and opportunities that their membership in the section offered.

“I joined SWE four years ago, and I wouldn’t change a thing!” said Esh Bhargava, who graduated with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and served as SWE’s 2021-22 Secretary and 2022-23 Vice President. “I will always be grateful for the professional engagement and development resources SWE provided me. The organization gave me the confidence to attend career fairs and apply for internships and, eventually, full-time jobs. More importantly, the students provided an open and safe social outlet to get to know each other and make some lifelong friends even though we were freshmen. I cherish every memory made laughing, studying and traveling with other members.”

Carly McDonald earned her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and served as SWE’s 2023-24 Professional Engagement Chair.

"I joined SWE as a freshman and immediately got involved,” Carly said. “I did a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes work for the Lockheed Martin Mentorship Program, the American Airlines event and the Pratt & Whitney events, and I've seen firsthand how valuable SWE is. Most companies I worked with actively reached out and wanted to work with us. I've also had the opportunity to meet amazing people, from other students to industry leaders. I've noticed that during my four years here, everyone in SWE genuinely cares about helping each other, and it's nice to have someone willing to help."

This has been an outstanding year for SWE, and as we say goodbye to some of our senior leaders, we’re also looking for committed young women to join SWE for the upcoming 2024-25 year.

If you love STEM and want to inspire young girls to follow in your footsteps, get involved in helping SWE empower women and create communities.

Learn more about becoming part of SWE at Embry-Riddle!

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