Connecting with Cal Poly, Spring 2017

On May 5th, middle and high school girls from Atascadero and San Luis Obispo came to Cal Poly to learn about engineering. They had all expressed interest in STEM previously and their teacher coordinated the visit to continue to engage them in the field. Cal Poly volunteers showed the students a variety of labs on campus. The Robotics Club let the students play against a computer program-controlled foosball robot opponent and the Innovation Sandbox explained how 3-D printing works as the maker bots whirred in the background. After the brief lab tour, Cal Poly SWE’s High School Outreach Chair gave a presentation about the statistics regarding women in STEM. There was a panel discussion with Cal Poly student and faculty, as well as industry representatives. Students were curious about the college experience in general, with interest in a smattering of subjects from forensic science to astronomy. This was the first event Cal Poly had coordinated with this group; we look forward to expanding this community outreach to parents and educators!

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SWE-UCR: Highlander Day

Highlander Day is an event for incoming students to learn about the school. Students who have been accepted to UCR are invited for a day of information and fun! This event is important to the school to retain students for enrollment. Our role was to table for the Bourns College of Engineering. Multiple professional student organizations talked about their purpose and benefits. We enjoyed talking about what we personally have gained from our involvement in SWE. We talked about why diversity is important in engineering, what events we have gone to or planned, what other benefits we offered. Three of our incoming officers attended which made it extra special! We got over two pages of sign ups and met all kinds of women engineering students. We have added them to our contact list for next quarter and look forward to having them be part of SWE!

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SWE-UCR: Bourns Engineering Day — OUR LARGEST OUTREACH EVENT OF THE YEAR

On Saturday April 29th the Society of Women Engineers held the 14th annual Bourns Engineering Day. The theme was aimed towards environmental engineering with the motto “Engineering for a Better Earth”. With over a hundred volunteers, SWE was able to have 1,200 kindergarten through 8th grade students come learn about the world of engineering. Those attendees were Boy Scouts troops, Girl Scout troops and families from around the community. We had over 25 activities for kids to get a hands on opportunity to learn more about STEM. SWE hosted company booths, robotic teams, Bourns College of Engineering clubs, and other clubs on campus.
One of the past years favorite activity lip balm made its way back to the event again. Volunteers helped students mix the ingredients and explain the chemical reactions that was occurring in their lip balm. We also had borax slime which got the the kids mixing glue, food coloring, and other ingredients to make sure that they got the right slimey texture. One of the few demos we had lemon battery, where volunteers showed kids how lemons acidity had the power to make LEDs light up. Another demo we had was a water filtration system, where kids got to see how clean water would get depending on the layers they put to clean out the dirty water.

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SWE also had Bourns, the CEO of Bourns Foundation, who donated a great contribution to the event come and talk to the attendees for the opening ceremony. He highlighted the two Bourns Engineering Day leads Vanessa Coria and Jacob Poole alongside the entire planning committee for their hard work and dedication to the event.
As the day progressed with more attendees coming to the event we had our first guest speaker Dr. Suveen Mathaudhu talk about the science behind superheroes. Later throughout the day we had our second speaker Liza Munoz give a presentation on how a water treatment plant works, presenting to the kids a video of a real water treatment plant. The event kept running with many activities, demonstrations, robotic teams, external booths, and engineering clubs reminding kids what engineering was. Bourns Engineering Day 2017 turned out be a success having more attendees and more activities we were able to introduce STEM and inspire the next wave of engineers.

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SWE-UCR — Big Bear Officer Retreat

Over the course of this past weekend, history was made and legends were born. Our annual officer retreat has seeded the beautiful foundation for the upcoming school year. New officers spent about 42 hours together in the great outdoors (and indoors — in the UCR cabin)! The weekend was incredibly filled with singing, dancing, games, activities, food, exploration, and of course, meetings. Although we had a lot of fun, the weekend was also very productive as we planned out the entire 2017-2018 school year. We also talked about everyone’s personality and work styles. Everyone got to know each other a lot better and became great friends! After hours of karaoke, it was safe to say we were all pretty comfortable with each other. This kind of unity among officers is important to us because it is the the best way we can maximize efficiency when we work together and the quality of SWE’s events.

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Since, for a change this year, we had the event during spring quarter instead of in the summer, many of us had homework due over the weekend. However, this was no problem! Groups of SWE officers who shared the same classes worked on their homework together for the first time — which was awesome because that is what we are here to do, support each other as women engineers. We watched Moana one and a half times — talk about women empowerment! We also went on the Castle Rock hike early Saturday morning where we had the chance to physically work together. It was a great way to realize that in SWE no one gets left behind and that we are only as strong as our weakest link, so we must empower ourselves as well as each other in order to succeed.
When the time came to pack up and go home, it was obvious that the vibe was different than when we first arrived at the cabin. We were no longer just a collection of women engineers working together toward a common goal — we were also FRIENDS enjoying each other’s company and inspiring each other to be our best self!

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SWE-UCR — Spring Egg Hunt

We kicked off the spring quarter with an egg-celent celebration! What better way to bring people together than with a social! Over a hundred eggs hidden all over the Bourns Patio and prizes for those who hunted the most!
We started the meeting with some announcements and talked about upcoming opportunities. Then we had an ice breaker to bring people closer — literally! The game was a classic teamwork and communication experience — A HUMAN KNOT! We formed groups based on majors — mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, bioengineers, galore! Smaller majors joined forces. Everyone had to randomly hold hands and then try to unknot themselves into a neat circle. The catch was — it was a race against the other engineering groups!

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By the end of the activity the vibe in the room was all fun and positivity! How could we not be besties after holding hands for ten minutes?
After the literally-bonding activity, it was time to change gears. EVERY ONE FOR THEMSELVES! Everyone was released to find eggs so everyone rushed downstairs to the patio. The eggs were everywhere and nowhere. On top of trees, under bushes, in cracks on the concrete, and who knows where else! After about ten minutes of egg-hunting, a winner — by a landslide — emerged. We took some pictures and then we concluded the day. An egg-cellent meeting! (Yes, that pun was used twice.)

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SWE-UCR — Engaging Girls in STEM: Making the Connection for Action

On April 20th, the Riverside County of Education held a groundbreaking event for the local community. Called “Engaging Girls in STEM,” this gathering brought together the Riverside community to discuss the vital need to break barriers and encourage young girls to get interested in STEM.

The event opened up with a panel, which included noteworthy leaders such as UCR’s own Sharon Walker (BCOE Interim Dean and Representative of Million Women Mentors), Alisha Wilkins from the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, Lea Deesing as Chief Innovation Officer from the City or Riverside, Sheilah Neff as a civil engineer for the California Department of Transportation, and Lyzandra Ortega as a 6th-grade student from Val Verde Elementary. The diversity of the panel, from women to engineers to leaders, offered a nuanced perspective on the current status and efforts of engaging girls in STEM, as well as concrete steps forward.

The panelists shared their personal journeys and struggles as women in leadership and engineering and highlighted the importance of engaging girls in STEM. Ortega emphasized the importance of her mentors in her path to and passion for STEM. Walker shared her project, Million Women Mentors, a program that offers professional mentorship for university students. She also gave a special shout-out to SWE for empowering organizations! While there has been much progress in this area, the panelists acknowledged that there is still much more than can be done.

After networking, participants were free to attend an open tabling session, where local organizations shared what they were doing to contribute to the mission of engaging girls in STEM. Among many, there were teams of young girls demoing their advanced STEM projects, STEM-focused schools, STEM-engaging programs for young women, and STEM organizations (like SWE!). Tablers shared their exciting work with Riverside leaders, professionals, parents, and young girls.

All in all, the initiatives to engage girls in STEM displayed at the RCOE event were truly inspiring and uplifting.

SWE-UCR Women in Engineering Meeting

The first SWE speaker series truly encompassed many different career paths and life paths after graduation. It focused on three individuals with very different upbringings, personalities, and experiences which truly demonstrates how everyone’s route is different.
Sandra Hernandez explained her experiences as fresh UCR graduate with a Chemical engineering degree and explained her travels and her search for work- something that we’ll all most likely encounter. She minored in creative writing and spoke about her love for reading and writing and how she has read many works dealing with careers.
Ariana Thacker, a Chemical Engineering graduate, gave a wonderful and insightful presentation on professional development by explaining her work and life experiences after graduating from UCLA. She also debuted her and her sister’s new company BootUp focusing on professional networking.

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Renee Van Dorne, a Mechanical Engineering graduate with over 20+ years of experiences, gave a wonderful presentation on her well-rounded career paths as well as educated many of us about the hardship and diversities of being a women engineer. She explained her time in the aerospace industry and how she moved onto medicinal engineering with Edwards Lifesciences. Renee gave an inspiring presentation where she acknowledges the different hardships today’s young engineers must endure as opposed to her own hardships throughout her careers.
The first SWE speaker series truly did encompass the many different paths after graduation. It truly embraces our differences and the many different routes that we may take after we take off our cap and gown.