Grad Group Spotlight: University of Illinois Grad SWE

19 Oct 2015


President: Anna Oldani,

Illinois Grad SWE should be synonymous with the weSTEM conference, a conference similar to the annual and regional SWE conferences but specifically targeted towards graduate students. weSTEM has made a huge splash and a huge impact! Congrats, Illinois Grad SWE on all your great work with weSTEM and at Illinois – keep it up!

Grad SWE website:

weSTEM website:


When did your group start?

January 2012

How is the group organized? i.e. how many core people are typically involved, do you have officers, how do you fit within the collegiate section, where do you get your budget (if you have one)? 

GradSWE is sub committee in our section’s committee system. The GradSWE President is a member of the SWE Officer Board. GradSWE is also its own official Registered Student Organization (RSO) at Illinois.

Core people: The GradSWE committee has typically consisted of 8-10 people, but is growing, and now contains sub-committees within GradSWE (i.e. publicity committee, with a graphic design chair, website chair, social media chair). Including the sub-committees, we currently have 16 official committee members.

The GradSWE budget is primarily supported by sponsorship from campus units and departments, with some corporate sponsorship.

What type of events do you host? How often do you host them? How many people tend to come to these events?

We generally host 1-2 social events per month (i.e. happy hour, apple picking, salsa dancing), and 2 lunch events per month. GradSWE provides food for the lunch events, which are usually centered around a career development topic. To give a few examples, sometimes there is a guest speaker from academia/industry, sometimes we watch a TED talk and discuss, and sometimes there is a presentation by career services representatives.

What is the one event or program of which you are most proud?
The weSTEM conference! It has been an amazing way to energize existing members, recruit new members, and build a network among the SWE community as a whole.

What tips do you have for a newly-started grad group?

      • Build a mutually-supportive relationship with your undergraduate section
      • Recruit a few strong graduate leaders to develop the initial documentation, infrastructure, and programming
      • Seek out independent funding support
      • Survey your graduate members early and often; adapt programming to reflect the needs of existing members in order to grow membership and participation
      • Come up with creative advertising channels; Try reaching out to all graduate STEM programs, include non-engineers to build membership and increase visibility on campus.

How can someone contact your group if they’re interested in participating?

Feel free to reach out to the Region H Grad Rep (Sam Knoll, or our current GradSWE president (Anna Oldani, at any time!

Grad SWE website:

weSTEM website:


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