Society of Women Engineers Region E Blog

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Welcome to FY15 in SWE Region E!

Our region collegiate officers are excited to welcome you to the start of the year and hope things are going well for all of you!  Here are our FY15 collegiate officers:

Region Collegiate Representatives (RCR): Claudia Guiterrez (Drexel University) & Katherine Fetscher (University of Virginia)

Region Collegiate Senator (RCS): Masroor Khan (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

Region Collegiate Communications Editor (RCCE): Vacant – Call for Nominations & Elections are forthcoming

Our Region Collegiate Team is led by our RCRs, RCS, RCCE and Region E Lt. Governor with the help of our CLCC, SWEFLs, Graduate Student Representative and Region Governor.

Region E Governor: Alexis McKittrick (BWS Section)

Region E Lt. Governor: Libby Taylor (DelMar Peninsula Section)

Collegiate Leadership Coaches: Claire Dvorak, Sarvenaz Laussermair, Melissa Mastro, Jayne Peterson & Cathleen Saunders

SWEFL: Vini Mehta (New Jersey Institute of Technology) & Danielle Schroeder (Drexel University & Interim RCCE)

Graduate Student Representative: Smruti Ragunath (New Jersey Institute of Technology & FY14 SWEFL)

Section Contact Information:

If you are a section president and aren’t receiving emails from the section, it probably means your Leadership Report was not updated with SWE HQ.  Send a note to as well as so we can ensure your section is getting up-to-date communications from the region & society!


Section Reports:

Our first collegiate section report is due on Wednesday, October 1.  All collegiate sections presidents should have received an email from either Claudia or Katherine with this template and instructions.  If you haven’t, please send an email to


Piloting our SWEet Summits:

For those of you that attended our collegiate business meeting at VT last year, you may remember us bringing up smaller leadership summits for our collegiate summits.  We know these summits will help encourage collaboration & networking within our collegiate summits and are excited to see how our first two come to fruition this fall!  Pending the success of the 3 pilots, we hope to execute these in all 7 of our SWEets in FY16.

This year we will be piloting 3 summits in the region –University of Maryland – Baltimore County for our DelMarsey SWEet, University of Virginia for our Virginia SWEet and New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Leadership at each of these schools, with the help of the RCT, are working hard to plan and execute these summits!


CLCC blog:

You may not have heard about it, but there is a CLCC blog.  It has a list of the modules as well as contact information.  Check it out and pass the word on to your sections!



Electronic deposit:

SWE HQ offers electronic deposit that can simplify and expedite the rebate process.  Please help share the information below and encourage collegiate sections to sign up with SWE HQ.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Headquarters Office has been moving from manual checks to electronic fund transfers (ACH or direct deposit).  This distribution system not only is more efficient, but eliminates delays due to mailings and or lost checks.  The check amount is deposited directly into your section’s checking account within a couple of days of an approved check request.

Contact Briana Aviles ( for details on how to set this up for your section!

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Getting to Know You: SWEFL

Thanks for tuning into the latest edition of the “Getting to Know You” column! This monthly series features one of Region E’s FY14 leaders so you have a chance to “meet” her, hear about her SWE career path, and learn a fun fact or two by the end!


Region E’s 2013-2014 SWEFLs (CW, from top left): Smruti, Samantha, Meaghan, Sasha, Shelby (front and center), and Genevieve.

This month, you’ll hear from more than just one of our FY14 leaders: we’ve got 6 of our SWEFLs on deck! Meet Meaghan Paulosky (Drexel University), Samantha Schneider (Drexel University), Smruti Ragunath (New Jersey Institute of Technology), Shelby Coppolino (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Genevieve D’Antonio (James Madison University), and Sasha McIntosh (Columbia University).

1) When did you begin your SWE career?

MP: The end of my sophomore year as Drexel’s Newsletter Chair.
SR: Spring 2012.
SS: I joined Drexel and society-level SWE my freshman year of college.
SC: Fall 2011 is when I started attending my chapter’s meetings. By Spring 2012, I was already voted in as Treasurer.
GD: I joined SWE when I was a freshman at James Madison University. I wanted to get more involved in my department and I wanted to become an exec member at that time because the SWE section at JMU was just starting. I was able to help form JMU SWE from the very beginning.
SM: I first became a member of SWE when our section held the Region E conference.

2) Explain a little bit about your current SWE position(s).

GD: I just got elected as SWE President for the JMU section for 2014-2015! This past year I was Vice-President of our section and in the past I was head of the Outreach Committee. I am a SWEFL (SWE Future Leader), which has given me the opportunity to get involved in my region and get to know other SWE leaders.
MP: I participated on the RCT this year as a SWEFL, which led to my position as Publications Chair for the RCPC. I greatly enjoyed both as they were an introduction to leadership outside of my own section; however, this was a particularly exciting year because I am also the Drexel SWE president. I am less than halfway through my term and working with 21 other dedicated officers to grow our section in preparation of hosting the 2015 Region E Conference.
SM: Currently I’m the outgoing President of our section and incoming Secretary of our section.
SC: I am currently the VP of the UMBC chapter and a SWEFL. Before I became VP, I was the Treasurer.
SS: I am currently the Vice President of our section. Our section leaders include President, Vice President, nine directors (Professional Development, Wellness, Conference, Secretary, Treasurer, Networking, Outreach, Membership, and Public Relations), and chair positions (1-3 chairs assist each director).
SR: I am the president of Graduate board SWE at NJIT for the academic year 2013-2014 as well as member of WE13 & WE 14 graduate planning committee.

3) What does SWE mean to you?

SC: Everything. SWE represents what I stand for. I love being a woman in engineering and supporting others achieve their career goals.
SM: SWE is a huge part of my collegiate experience. For me, SWE is a place where an amazing group of women come together to promote, encourage and support women in engineering.
SS: SWE is a diverse group of women (and men) in the engineering field that support each other. The friends that I have made in my section have encourage me to aim high and achieve my goals.
MP: SWE means recognizing what uniquely drives you and celebrating it so that other women can do the same for themselves.
GD: SWE is such an amazing society and it has given me so many opportunities to network, gain leadership and communication skills, and obtain advice for helping better the JMU SWE section.
SR: A platform for aspiring women to progress as leaders in their chosen field of their choice.

4) What advice would you give to people just starting their SWE careers?

SM: Go big! It may seem daunting to jump into a leadership position right away, but give a try! You’ll become very close with the people in your section quickly and you’ll learn so much.
SR: Make good use of the opportunity and make the best out of it.
GD: I would tell them to get involved early on in their section and regionally. It can seem intimidating and overwhelming but everyone in SWE is so helpful and they will help you to succeed.
SC: It is okay to be different; it is okay to stand out! People don’t listen to your ideas? Say them louder. Let your voice be heard.
MP: Don’t be afraid to say yes. When I first joined SWE three years ago, I was unsure about what I had to offer and let it limit my involvement. My new SWE friends encouraged me to host events and take on responsibility. Despite my nerves, I started saying yes and got involved with every board position Drexel SWE has. I learned new skills, made new friendships, and achieved new goals along the way.
SS: Whether you are at a section event or society conference, get to know as many people as possible! You will learn a lot and expand your network, which could be beneficial when you are looking for a job or making an important decision.

5) What is the first thing you notice about a person?

SS: A smile! Always try to have a positive attitude :)
SM: The first thing I notice about someone is their confidence and presence.
MP: Their posture. When people get excited or feel good about what they’re talking about, I’ve noticed they tend to straighten their posture to show strength and poise. I try to use this to gauge who is actually passionate about their work or who needs help identifying their source of confidence.
GD: The first thing I notice about someone is their personality.
SR: Aspiration in life, positive attitude and approach towards their set goals.
SC: Whether or not they are talkative.

6) If money was no object, what would you be doing right now?

SR: Serving humanity to my heart’s fullest.
GD: If money was no object, I wouldn’t go to college. I would try to learn as much as I can in the engineering field by using hands on experiences by working on projects around the world and by using the experiences to help to make a difference!
SS: Traveling- there are so many places I want to see!
SM: If money was no object, I’d probably be studying abroad in Europe somewhere.
MP: Launching my own biotech start-up.
SC: Exactly what I am doing now! (If you don’t love what you do, why do it?) Plus a building a few more robots and a few more shopping trips…

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GEARS Day 2014 was an engineering educational outreach event geared towards Philadelphia high school girls held on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014. The event was hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Society of Women Engineers section in conjunction with Philadelphia Society of Women Engineers section. This year’s GEARS Day marks the fourth year of the event being held on UPenn’s campus.


This year’s GEARS Day was attended by seventy-six sophomore and junior high school females who attended high school as close as Philadelphia and as far away as Maryland, and was made possible by the efforts of over forty-five volunteers, ranging from undergraduate, graduate, and professional SWE members.


Throughout the one-day event, students participated in four different workshops, each workshop having a concentration in different engineering fields.


Students interested in Civil Engineering participated in our Bridge Design workshop, were students modeled their own bridges and simulated stress tests.


A bioengineering workshop, called DNA Extraction, allowed participants to extract DNA from strawberries and bananas and observe them under microscopes. A new addition to this year’s workshop roster, a Wind Tunnel workshop, gave students the opportunity to build their own wind turbines out of various materials, place them in a wind tunnel, and measure the power generated by each of their designs.


Overall, ten different workshops across the engineering disciplines of bioengineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, and systems engineering were represented at this year’s GEARS Day.


Speaking to participants during and after the event, students who had previously never had exposure to engineering expressed excitement at an event that introduced them to a variety of different engineering fields. Specific feedback from follow-up surveys had participants commenting that through their involvement in GEARS Day 2014, they now had an increased interest in pursuing engineering in college and beyond. Collegiate and professional volunteers expressed their enthusiasm at being able to share their experiences in the engineering career path with a new generation of potential engineering students. The ladies of Philly and UPenn SWE had a great time hosting the event, and are already looking forward to next year’s event!

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Getting to Know You: FY14 Region E Secretary

Thanks for tuning into the latest edition of the “Getting to Know You” column! This monthly series features one of Region E’s FY14 leaders so you have a chance to “meet” her, hear about her SWE career path, and learn a fun fact or two by the end!

This month, you’ll hear from Mary Steblein, Region E’s current Secretary!


1) When did you begin your SWE career?

I started participating in SWE in 1995 as a first-year at Lafayette College (also in Region E!), but my membership officially started in 1996. In 1999 after moving back to Rochester, I joined the Rochester professional section.

2) Explain a little bit about your current SWE position(s).

Since this interview is due to my Region Officer position, I’ll start there: I was elected as the FY14 Region Secretary at the council meeting in Delaware last year, and I am finishing my one-year term as Secretary and looking forward to another one (I was re-elected in Blacksburg). As the Secretary, I participate in the Leadership Summit, send out meeting announcements, conduct email voting, take notes during our monthly conference calls, maintain the list serves, and provide minutes for any business meetings.

I like to keep busy, so I’m also the elected Section Representative for the Rochester Section, meaning I participate on the Region Council in that capacity as well (monthly conference calls, voting, and attending the annual business meeting). I’m also a SWE Counselor for the Rochester Institute of Technology collegiate section. I don’t currently hold a society-level role but I have held some in the past (Counselor Coordinator, COR Communications Chair).

3) What does SWE mean to you?

SWE has meant many things to me over the years; in college it provided a big sister/little sister program, after college it provided the start of my professional network, and over the past decade it’s provided me the opportunity to strengthen leadership skills, work on my public speaking and refine my communication techniques. My husband is always amazed at my recharged enthusiasm for engineering whenever I return from a SWE conference – it’s also a motivational support group for me.

4) What advice would you give to people just starting their SWE careers?

#1 – Find a SWE mentor, or at least take opportunities (like speed networking) to learn more about the available positions – most people are happy to talk about their SWE path and #2 – look for opportunities that fit your strengths, but hopefully also helps you work on your weaknesses. It takes time to figure out these things about yourself, but it’s worthwhile when you find the right fit. There are so many opportunities within SWE – from volunteer opportunities to leadership roles, just keep active!

5) What is the first thing you notice about a person?

Their overall style and demeanor – you have to know your audience in order to communicate well with them, so I don’t ignore visual cues. I do try to be careful not to stereotype or pigeonhole people based on past experiences.

6) If money was no object, what would you be doing right now?

Traveling – I’d love to see all 50 states (I’m up to 29 – more than half way) and many more countries.

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2014 Region E Conference Recap


Alma Forman, one of the founding members of SWE, rocks an Old Dominion University sweatshirt! (h/t ODU SWE)

Another Region E Conference has come and gone, and 2014’s rendition only enhanced the legacy of Region E’s spectacular programming. Huge shoutout to all the incredible conference planning committee members (especially Conference Co-Chairs Heather Bernardin and Theresa Garwood) for their endless dedication in making this conference memorable and successful!


Conference Co-Chairs Heather Bernardin and Theresa Garwood

From March 28-March 30, 2014, SWEsters from across the region and beyond united at Virginia Tech (hereafter referred to as VT). VT was a gorgeous, sprawling campus; it was the perfect setting for all attendees to network, learn from each other, and advance themselves professionally and personally.



The theme this year was “Engineer the Future” and the programming echoed it throughout the weekend. On Saturday, four workshop tracks (College, Professional Development, Career, Technical) kept people engaged throughout the main conference day. Topics such as “What Makes a Great Leader?”, “Bridging from Engineering to Supply Chain Management”, “Dealing with Leadership Burnout”, and “How to Land an Internship Successfully” opened up thought-provoking dialogue.


The career fair was packed with enthusiastic jobseekers looking for their next opportunity and informative company representatives passionate about their respective firms.


The keynote speakers throughout the conference sparked new ideas for attendees to consider and share with others. Mary Perkinson, Director of Advocacy on SWE’s Board of Directors, gave the State of SWE presentation in the morning, sharing the Society’s incredible milestones and highlighting our organization’s future direction.


Dr. Amy Elliott, lead for the design and fabrication team of DreamVendor (the world’s first 3D printing vending machine) and finalist on the first season of The Discovery Channel’s The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius, shared her wisdom during the lunch session.


Dr. Linsey Marr, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at VT, closed out the evening with an overview of her career path and sage advice for attendees. Perhaps the most poignant piece of advice came from Marr’s mother: “You can do everything a boy can do, and you can do it better.” She also encouraged us to accept that we can’t do it all and prioritize what was most important to us to define the optimal work-life balance for ourselves. We were honored to have these esteemed guests with us.


FY14 Region E Collegiate Team (including our RCRs, RCCE, and SWEFLs)!


SWE leadership dressed to the nines!

As per tradition, Region E held its evening banquet and awards program, honoring the incredible accomplishments of sections and individuals in our region. Our sincerest congratulations to the following recipients:

Outstanding Collegiate Section:
1st Place: University of Pennsylvania Section
2nd Place: Cornell University Section

Communication Media: Philadelphia Section

Governor’s Choice: University of Pennsylvania Section

Outstanding Mentor: Cassandra Zook, Philadelphia Section

We are thrilled about next year’s Region E Conference at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA! Happy planning and see you in Philly soon!

– Nicole Woon, FY14 RCCE

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April Hot Topic: Writing SWE Award Applications

With spring in full swing, it’s time to start applying for SWE Awards! Your section has accomplished a tremendous amount during FY14 and it’s time for you to be recognized for all your achievements!

Keep the following in mind when filling out your applications:

  • Have all your event information on hand when you are filling out the form
  • Remember to obtain SWE membership information from SWE HQ
  • Don’t forget supporting documents, pictures, and links on the applications
  • If you have questions, please contact the award coordinator or your Region Collegiate Team

Society Collegiate Awards

  • Outstanding Collegiate Section/Outstanding New Collegiate Section: Awards presented to Collegiate Sections with the most outstanding overall program for the year. Due 5/31.
  • Collegiate Technical Poster Competition: Emphasizes the ability to deliver outstanding visual presentations. Due 6/15.
  • Team Tech Competition (Sponsored by Boeing): Emphasizes the importance of teamwork and interface with industry in the engineering educational process. Due 1/15.
  • SME Bowl (Sponsored by Exxon Mobile Corporation): The Subject Matter Expert (SME) Bowl is a competition that challenges collegiate members in the areas of science, math, physics, engineering, and technology, and also challenges them in their knowledge of SWE history and policies. Due 10/15.

Click here to read more about the awards and to download application packets.

Society Section Awards

  • Communication Awards
  • Membership Awards: Collegiate Transition, Collegiate to Career, Region Membership, Membership Retention Program and Membership Recruitment Program
  • Multicultural Awards: Motorola Foundation Multicultural Award (Professional Sections and MALs); Boeing Company Multicultural Award (Collegiate Sections)
  • Outreach Awards: Event/Series Program, Outreach MOU Partnership, Outreach Parent and Educator Program
  • Professional Awards

Click here to read more about the awards and to download application packets. These award submissions are due 7/1 to General questions can be directed to


March Hot Topic II: Section Best Practices

Who better to learn best practices from than our region’s collegiate sections themselves? Read on for innovative event ideas, and methods to show appreciation for your members. [Ed. note: Responses are edited for clarity and length.]

Cornell: Leadership Workshop

Cornell: Leadership Workshop

Cornell: Chair of the Month Recognition

Cornell: Chair of the Month Recognition

Recognize Section Members and Build Your Leadership Pipeline 

  • Old Dominion University: Our best practice would be the time we spend at the end of each meeting. After going over the group announcements and upcoming events and featuring any speaker we may have, we talk to the members individually.  A large majority of our girls were very shy at the beginning and therefore wouldn’t speak out in a large crowd.  Our officers specifically have been encouraged to make a personal connection as they will be the ones coming to all the meetings generally. There will always be a friendly face.
  • Cornell University: We have leadership training workshops with the chairs, which help chairs get to know each other and participate in reflective activities. We also nominate a “chair of the month” to allow for more recognition within SWE. We have also accomplished more effective communication with our chairs and directors by holding meetings more regularly and increasing member feedback to evaluate how E-board is doing by using Qualtrics anonymous surveys.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: We hosted an event called “Engineers Got Talent” for Engineering Week. After months of planning with a 100-150 person expected attendance, we successfully ran this showcase for engineers to show the school what they’ve got.

University of Pennsylvania: Launching PennSustains, a sustainability solution competition

Develop Your Members Professionally

  • University of Pennsylvania: Penn SWE was proud to host PennSustains, the university’s first  sustainability solution competition. The competition had three objectives in mind: celebrate “the joy of building things,” make Penn and Philadelphia a more sustainable campus and city, and utilize engineering in any endeavors. In its inaugural year, 29 participants across nine teams vied for over $7,000 in prizes raised by the planning committee. The event not only united diverse ideas from planning committee members and student teams, but also stressed professional excellence (written and verbal) in participants as they crafted business plans and idea pitches from scratch.
  • Rowan University: We partnered with the “Why So Slow? The Progress of Women in STEM” Faculty Learning Community to host a TED Discussion.  SWE members, general collegiates, and faculty members attended and were inspired to empower themselves through the use of nonverbal behavior.  It was a huge hit and we plan on hosting more TED discussions in the future.



Cooper Union: Building bridges for the Kids in Engineering program

Enhance Educational Outreach Activities

  • Cooper Union: This year, we increased the number of events that we hold at different schools in the New York area to promote engineering to students at a young age. For example, we recently expanded our Kids in Engineering outreach program. This November, SWE members hosted 28 Fifth Graders  at Cooper Union for a Kids in Engineering Day. We taught these elementary school students about all different types of engineering and particularly about bridges. Afterward, we worked with them as they built their own bridges in teams of two on a limited budget; the best bridge won a prize. While they enjoyed this activity, they also learned a lot about bridges and figured out how to work together most efficiently. We then enjoyed lunch together and gave the students a tour of our mechanical and civil engineering projects and labs. We hope to get kids, particularly young girls, excited about engineering by exposing them to ideas and encouraging them to think like engineers. We hope to give back to the community and expand our women in engineering initiatives in this manner.
  • Stony Brook University: NY Cares Day was a great community outreach event that SWE members attended in the fall. We went to a school in Brooklyn for at risk young adults. We painted inspirational murals and quote boards all through the halls and libraries. The main message was to find light even through dark situations. SBU SWE is a repeat participant in this event. We have a lot of love for it and hope to get even more people interested next year.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute: One event in the fall that went really well was Brownie Day. Our SWE members received positive feedback, and a lot of the girls who volunteered for this event from SWE weren’t necessarily ones that attended the meetings. It was good to see that people want to be actively involved with SWE even if they can’t attend meetings. This event also went well because it was a way to outreach to the local community and expose young girls to aspects of science and engineering. One parent’s comments struck home: “Daisy Troop 888 (from Christiansburg) had a lovely morning at your Inventor event.  I (a mom and the leader) thought the activity level was perfectly appropriate for the younger girls.  SO many activities are ostensibly for ‘kids’ but not really… and the grownups end up doing/creating the item. I loved that the girls actually did their own work with the encouragement of enthusiastic young adults.  It was perfect.  Our daughters had a great time.  Thank you.”

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