The Society of Women Engineers, or SWE, is a non-profit educational service organization composed of science and engineering students and graduate engineers. Nancy Novak spoke with three SWE members to learn more about their mission. Emily Peterson, Professional Relations Director, Noelle Kurien, President, and Megan Giltmier, Vice President, all from the Michigan State SWE chapter, sat down to discuss their passion for engineering and the importance of SWE.
Peterson formulated her love of mechanical engineering through Lego building as a youth. Kurien is a chemical engineering major concentrating in biomedical, which she believes will provide her with a breadth of opportunities upon graduation. Giltmier, an upcoming junior at MSU, is a chemical engineering major like Kurien. Giltmier credits her pursuit of a STEM career to her high school A.P. Bio teacher, who encouraged her to go into the STEM field. Her desires include working on climate change.
There are a lot of professional and personal benefits to being a member of SWE. Peterson says the organization helps connect students with other women working in STEM jobs, and on campus, SWE provides a reliable support network of women. “I think it’s really just that network of knowing familiar faces is something you can’t get in any organization on campus.”
Kurien joined SWE to fulfill several criteria she had when looking for a campus organization. “One was community service; one was creating a sense of belonging and finding new friends, and also professional development. SWE was one of those unique clubs that did all three of those for me.”
Giltmier says competition is one of the most significant challenges facing women in engineering. “Both competition with my male peers, feeling like I have to prove myself to them, but also in that same environment, it causes a lot more competition between my female peers, because there are fewer of us, and we’re all working on proving ourselves.”