Society of Women Engineers: Finding Your Voice

Society of Women Engineers Meeting
Jared Libby

On March 8, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at TMCC hosted a memorable event that brought together faculty, staff, and students to connect and exchange genuine success stories from the industry. The session was open to all, fostering lively discussions with experienced local female professionals from diverse backgrounds spanning mechanical, civil, manufacturing, and other engineering fields. Almost all had journeyed through a community college as part of their educational path. One UNR College of Engineering graduate shared insights about her transition to a professional. As a former member of the UNR SWE Chapter, she candidly expressed the profound impact SWE had on her. The overwhelming support demonstrated for our aspiring engineers and community college students was inspiring. As a Recognized Student Organization (RSO), SWE provides a support community for all who study engineering, computer science, and technology.

Rallying Motivation With Conversation

Among the guests were Dee Frewart and Seena Drapala, President and Member Chair, respectively, of the Sierra Nevada Section of the Society of Women Engineers (SNS SWE). Their invaluable support in fostering the establishment of SWE at TMCC played a considerable role.

Several professionals had previously attended in April 2023 during TMCC SWE’s Kick-Off meeting, marking the club’s inception. They revisited to embolden our students, encouraging them to persist in this demanding academic journey.

During the professional panel, several recurring themes surfaced. Numerous panelists reflected on their formative experiences at community colleges, underscoring overcoming obstacles and ultimately obtaining their degrees, the institutions an instrumental factor. They candidly shared stories of their development, involvement in significant projects, and the challenges they faced while navigating a field where they remained underrepresented. A bond of progress united the club members and their advocates.

Samantha Bernardy, SWE President, talked about the gratifying narratives gleaned from the dialogue while highlighting how their organization elevates all students and promotes inclusivity in campus Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

“Talking to engineers at particular career stages, from newly graduated to hardened pros, showed me how the SWE community benefits continue even after graduating and relocation. Their insights on concept understanding have given me a new perspective on my educational journey,” Bernardy said.

“Being a part of the SWE Club has boosted my confidence tremendously, especially as a woman returning to school later in life for engineering. Having a supportive group of peers and mentors has made the challenging coursework much more manageable. SWE has been an empowering space,” continued Bernardy.

SWE is steadily reshaping what it means to be a woman in engineering, but its impact extends to anyone. Their principles champion a culture of integrity, excellence, and trust. These are qualities we all should strive to emulate. While never easy, it is possible to forge honest transformations, especially with loyal allies who devote themselves to the effort.

Participating in a club like SWE offers invaluable opportunities to enhance both your social connections and academic achievements. These include attending enriching events and gaining recognition as a leader within your field. Currently, faculty members are encouraged to nominate STEM Stars, with applications closing on March 31st. Additionally, SWE at TMCC is looking for student leaders to spearhead its initiatives in the upcoming academic year.

“Serving as SWE’s President has inspired me to encourage other aspiring STEM students. It’s given me experience managing a team and driving initiatives. My advice is don’t get discouraged and keep building your skills. Engineering needs the diverse perspectives women can provide. Having a considerate circle also makes a big difference,” Bernardy said.

For more information, please visit the Engineering and Society of Women Engineers websites.