Photo courtesy of National SWE

For the Georgia Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), 2016 was a fruitful year. Not only was the organization given four national awards at the national conference, but they were also selected to host the SWE Region D Conference, which will take place in March.

SWE currently has approximately 780 paid official members in the Georgia Tech chapter this year, about 200 active members and is currently ranked as the second-largest section nationwide. The organization’s mission is to give female engineering students a unique place and voice within the engineering industry and is centered on a passion for members’ success in engineering and technology specialties.

As Vice President of Administration, Hannah Chen, third-year IE, arranged the logistics for the 28 women who attended the most recent SWE national conference in Philadelphia in 2016. Her duties included booking travel and flight tickets, transportation, selecting the 28 SWE members who attended the conference and planning three professional pre-conferences sessions.

“We are so honored to be able to win four national awards at the national conference this year,” Chen said. “We usually don’t win any awards, period. There are a lot of other competitive sections out there, but we were lucky and grateful to win four this year. I think it has a lot to do with our membership, just how much our members are contributing to our SWE section.”

The three professional pre-conference sessions included a public speaking and networking event with Alpha Kappa Psi, a “How to Use LinkedIn the Smart Way” event — in which SWE brought in two representatives from the Center for Career Discovery and Development (C2D2) — and finally how to make the most out of the national conference, organized
by Chen.

This past summer, the Awards Chair Application committee was hard at work, applying for different awards for different committees online. This year, SWE put in the extra effort to research the rubric and judging criteria, narrow the categories down and communicate with the Executive Board of Tech’s SWE who in turn provided statistics about the events in the past year.

“Another thing SWE has been doing is feedback surveys so that we’re able to capture what people want to see more,” Chen said. “In terms of applying to awards, this is very helpful because if you have all this data, it can really help improve the application. What really made us stand out as a section was how much information we had, and we also became really serious about applying, and that helped us win four awards.”

The four categories that Georgia Tech SWE won at the past conference were Membership Recruitment, Outreach, Professional Development and Communications. The next awards ceremony will be held at the upcoming Region D Conference at Tech.

Hosting the Region D conference at Tech is an honor in itself, and making the bid was no easy feat. Alissa Alberico, a fourth-year AE and current conference committee chair, presented a bid at the Nashville, Tenn., National SWE Conference in
October 2015.

“I was responsible for leading the team that created the initial bid,” Alberico said. “I helped come up with potential costs, a potential schedule and reasons why Tech is the perfect place to hold our regional conference. One of the major points for our bid was Georgia Tech’s presence in the world of engineering. Whether it’s GTRI, our amazing students or our ground-breaking faculty, Tech has all of the resources an organization like SWE could need.”

Starting in October 2015, SWE began planning the conference that would be held at Tech in March 2017.

“Some of our biggest challenges are working with the sponsors and attendees to create the best and final regional conference that SWE will be hosting,” Alberico said. “I am most excited for the career fair we will be having and our ‘Celebrate SWE’ event.”

The conferences following the Region D Conference at Tech will no longer be hosted by universities and will instead be hosted by the national SWE at particular locations around the United States.

The Region D conference at Tech is generously funded by corporate sponsors including Baker Hughes, International Paper, Solvay, Caterpillar, Chevron, General Motors and Eaton, among others.

The conference will occur from Thursday, March 9, to Saturday, March 11, at the Georgia Aquarium. The conference planning committee is currently busy planning guest speakers, conference sessions and food catering as well as managing the other minute but important details.

“We expect a couple hundred attendees from the southwest region, and this includes professional and collegiate,” Chen said.

Admission to the conference is $95 for a paid SWE member. Any Tech student is allowed to attend, but it is less expensive if one is attending as a SWE member. Georgia Tech SWE plans on bringing about 50 people, which does not include volunteers.

Along with the Region D Conference, Georgia Tech SWE is also currently preparing for their recruitment week, commonly known as “SWEek.” During SWEek, which will occur the week of Jan. 17, SWE hosts a social activity every day to allow potential new members and current SWE members to get to know each other.

“All the networking and relationships you make at SWE can really lead a long way,” Chen said. “You never know where the connections you make will take you. I remember my freshman year, I jumped on a plane to go to conference, and two years later, I’m the one who is helping to plan it.”