Grad Group Spotlight: UCLA Grad SWE

7 Mar 2016




When did your group start?

PhD students Gabriela Bran and Nancy Tseng founded GradSWE at UCLA about two years ago. The reason, as Gabriela put it, is “every time I would meet a woman in engineering graduate school, we would both get really excited to have “found” one more female engineer”. The two met at a SWE mentor/mentee program and started talking about the unmet need for a graduate student group representing women in engineering. They brought the idea of GradSWE to the SWE-UCLA president who supported the idea along with Professor Adrienne Lavine. The first big event was a general meeting in winter of 2014 where about 30 people attended.


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)?

We are a committee under SWE-UCLA with regular positions including a Director, Vice Director, treasurer, historian, and publicity and outreach chairs. We currently have about 10 active officers/chairs who attend bi-weekly meetings and organize events. Our budget comes from SWE-UCLA and the engineering Graduate Student Association (eGSA), who we are very grateful for their support!


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

Every quarter (fall, winter, spring) we try to host one event per week. Quarterly, we have a general meeting, wine and cheese social, hiking trip, and an outreach event. Sometimes we have other events in between our main ones such as trips to museums and local company tours. At general meetings we discuss the events for the quarter, socialize, and recruit new members. The very popular wine and cheese social is a purely social/networking event for grad students to unwind and meet students in other departments and labs. For hiking trips we have gone to the old LA zoo, Malibu, and the hollywood sign to name a few. We collaborate with organizations such as UCLA’s Advancing Women in Science and Engineering (AWiSE) group and Los Angeles DIYGirls to help with and organize outreach events. Our signature event is the Life Lessons panel, held every spring, where professors and professionals in industry offer advice and answer questions about their experiences and journey from graduate school to where they are now. We tend to have at least 30 people come to our main events.


What is the one event or program of which you are most proud?

We are very proud of the yearly Life Lessons panel because of the feedback we have received from students who have found it to be interesting, useful, and valuable. I also wanted to mention a very successful event that several of our committee members put on last fall, which was a screening of the PhD movie 2 at UCLA. Over 300 graduate students attended!


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

For newly-started grad groups, we suggest spending time talking to all kinds of graduate students in your department and programs to find out what activities and events they would benefit from. That way you are putting in the effort to make events that many students will want to go to!


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

For anyone interested in joining our efforts to keep GradSWE running and growing please contact or visit our website to see when we have our next meeting/event:


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