Inclusion-Focused Sessions at WE17

Since the conference is in a little over two weeks, I’m going to take this blog post as an opportunity to highlight some of the conference events that are particularly focused on diversity and inclusion.

Before that, I want to highly encourage anyone attending the conference to check out the many events that the Affinity Groups have planned! These include roundtable discussions, socials, and sessions on issues of particular interest to their group. On Thursday, there’s even a “SWE Affinity Groups Workshop” (10:15 – 11:30 am) where you can learn all about these groups and how to get involved.

Thursday, October 26

“Getting the Diverse Mix to Work Well Together: Lessons Learned on Inclusion Techniques” (2 – 3 pm) – This workshop promise to share best practices on creating an inclusive culture and provide attendees with practical actions to employ right away. If you are looking to foster a more inclusive culture in your lab or university more broadly, this talk seems like a great place to start!

“Real Actions to Overcome Unconscious Biases and Become a More Inclusive Leader” (4:30 – 5:30 pm)—All of us have unconscious biases; what is important is how we act on them. This workshop will teach attendees both how to respond when they are the subject of unconscious bias, as well as how to overcome their own personal biases. Through addressing both of these, attendees will be better able to foster an inclusive culture when they return to their labs or offices. If you are looking for another similar talk, check out “Are you Counted or Do you Count?” on Saturday (10 – 11 am).

“Inclusion Today – LGBTQ and Allies News and Tools for Campus and the Workplace” (10:15 – 11:30 am) – Come to this session to learn about some of the challenges facing LGBTQ individuals, as well as what can be done to support LGBTQ people. This workshop promises time for the attendees to practice some first steps to help realize a more inclusive culture.

Friday, October 27

“TECHing While Woman and with Disability” (10 – 11:15 am) – This panel will explore the challenges of being a woman in STEM and having a debilitating condition. With representatives from academia and industry this panel will explore an important, but often overlooked, facet of diversity.

“Breaking down Stigmas and Building Awareness: Mental Health” (1:30 – 2:30 pm) – Attendees will be provided with practical tools to help themselves and those around them be successful, despite a mental illness. By helping breakdown the barriers around mental health, we can help people get help earlier and build more inclusive communities.

“Advocating for Inclusion – A Male’s Perspective” (4 – 5 pm) – Whether you are a man seeking suggestions of how to better promote inclusion of women in your organization or a woman wondering about how best to engage men on diversity issues, this promises to be an informative panel. Men will be able to learn from other men strategies that have worked and women can gain new strategies for best enabling their male allies.

“Courageous Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion” (4 – 5 pm) – If you are looking for a chance to practice the tough conversations necessary to create culture shifts in an organization, then this is the session for you. After giving participants and overview of inclusion strategies that work, there will be an opportunity to practice these strategies in a supportive environment.

Saturday, October 28

“Women of Color in Engineering: Challenges, Opportunities, and Factors to Enhance Inclusion and Retention” (1:30 – 2:30 pm) – Panelists will both share their personal experiences as a women of color in the US, as well as specific, evidence-based strategies that have been proven to increase inclusion and retention of more women of color in engineering.

“Switching Sides – My Professional Journey over the Rainbow” (10 – 11:15 am) – Using the personal story of the presenter in coming out, this session will teach attendees the power of being yourself in furthering your career and the success of their organization.

Still looking for more talks related to diversity and inclusion? Download the WE Events App or check out the WE17 Conference website here. There are even more events under the “Inclusion and Cultural Awareness” session type filter.

If you are attending the conference, hopefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of some of these sessions to gain new tips to foster a more inclusive culture in your lab or department!



We17: Rapid Fire Research Presentation Competition Finalists

The Rapid Fire is a research presentation competition that takes place at the annual conference, with both undergraduate and graduate divisions. The session name comes from the short length of the talks, only 4 minutes! This format challenges finalists to present their technical work clearly and succinctly to a panel of industry and academia judges from across engineering disciplines. The top 10 finalists were selected this summer to compete at We17 in Austin. After a competitive selection process, they represent top graduate and undergraduate  research!

Congratulations to our graduate finalists:
Amy Van Asselt, University of Wisconsin
Sarah Beauchamp, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Sarah Garrow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Divya Kernik, University of California, Davis
Priyanka Sarker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kazi Tasneem, Vanderbilt University
Lisa Volpatti, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sarah Watzman, The Ohio State University
Jill Wenderott, University of Michigan
Rana Soltani Zarrin, Texas A&M University

Congratulations to our undergraduate finalists:
Jessica Bilskie, Milwaukee School of Engineering
Alena Casella, University of Akron
Eileen Choe, Loyola Marymount University
Marlyn Garcia, The University of Texas at El Paso
Leah Kaplan, University of Arizona
Margarita Kovalchuk, California State University, Sacramento
Chanel Manzanillo, California State University Sacramento
Julia Miao, Cornell University
Elizabeth Tan, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Asena Yildiz, University of California, Berkeley

Rapid Fire awards are made possibly by our sponsor, Praxair. Check out their career opportunities and why to work at Praxair!

Come see these students present at We17:
Rapid Fire: Graduate Students — Thursday, Oct 26, 2:15pm-3:15pm, Room 5
Rapid Fire: Undergraduate Students —  Saturday, 11:15am-12:15pm, Room 19A


We17 Events: Graduate Reception


Past GMC and Past GPC at We16 Graduate Reception

If you are attending We17, the Graduate Student Reception is a must-attend event. What’s better than food, networking, and socializing with your fellow grad students? This year Autodesk is sponsoring and bringing along some of their best engineers to network with us. This will be a highlight of We17!

Add the event in your conference plan. And check out career opportunities at Autodesk!

What: Graduate Student Reception
When: Friday, Oct 27, 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Where: JW Marriott –Brazos

Meet our We17 Sponsors: Praxair

Meet our We17 Sponsors: Praxair


We are pleased to announce Praxair is sponsoring the Rapid Fire research presentation competition at We17. Through this sponsorship, Praxair and GradSWE members can connect for networking, professional development, and career opportunities. Praxair is interested in students like you!

Whether you are attending conference or not, be sure to check out their Careers Page for more information. Learn about their career areas, culture, and leadership development program.

They have both full-time opportunities and internships. Praxair is looking for talented engineers like our GradSWE members!

Polish your resume and practice your elevator pitch, We17 is all about making new connections.

Meet our We17 Sponsors: Autodesk

Meet our We17 Sponsors: Autodesk

Autodesk Logo

We are pleased to announce Autodesk is sponsoring the Graduate Student Reception at We17 (Friday, October 27 at 5:00). Through this sponsorship, Autodesk and GradSWE members can connect for networking, professional development, and career opportunities. Autodesk is interested in students like you!

Whether you are attending conference or not, be sure to check out their Careers Page for more information. Learn about their career opportunities for graduating students.

Check out their LinkedIn and even their Instagram!

Polish your resume and practice your elevator pitch, We17 is all about making new connections.

We17 GradSWE Sessions

Get excited for We17 with a full list of GradSWE activities! Plan your own schedule on the Conference Planner. Meet new friends at the Business Meeting and the Reception! We hope to see you there. Follow our twitter @SWE_grad for updates!

Look out for similar programming at WeLocals and follow our posts this winter and spring to get involved with GradSWE programming next year!


Time Session Speakers Room
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Your First Academic Position: Questions for the Hiring Committee Raenita Fenner, Stephanie Gillespie Room 4
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm Rapid Fire: Graduates Finalists Room 5
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm GradSWE Business Meeting Grad SWE Leadership Team Room 19A


Time Session Speakers Room
9:00 pm – 6:00 pm Graduate & Undergraduate Poster judging Finalists Level 4 Lobby
3:50 pm – 4:10 pm Nevertheless She Persisted: My PhD Thesis and Transmission Electron Microscopy Emily Hoffman Room 18AB
4:50 pm – 5:10 pm Academic Advisement – How to Choose Your Advisor, and Work With Them Sanjana Das, Josa Hanzlik, Genevieve Kane Room 18AB
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Graduate Student Reception Sponsored by Autodesk JW Marriot – Brazos
7:00 pm Graduate Social Easy Tiger


10:00 am – 11:15 am Engineer Your Life Outside Your Classroom – Put Your Extracurriculars to Work Mary Beth Biddle, Claudia Gutierrez, Josa Hanzlik, Samantha Schneider, Danielle Schroeder Room 15
11:15 am – 12:15 pm Rapid Fire: Undergraduates Finalists Room 19A
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm Planning for Life After Graduate School Jaimie Dougherty, Josa Hanzlik, Theresa Newton, Rachel Unruh Room 13

Note: All sessions in the Austin Convention Center unless otherwise noted.

We17 Graduate Sessions

The SWE Annual Conference, We17, has  focused programming just for graduate students. We are pleased to promote our sessions this year, including:

  • Your First Academic Position: Questions for the Hiring Committee, Thu, Oct 26, 11:30am – 12:30pm
  • Nevertheless She Persisted: My PhD Thesis and Transmission Electron Microscopy, Fri, Oct 27, 3:50pm – 4:10pm
  • Academic Advisement – How to Choose Your Advisor, and Work With Them, Fri, Oct 27, 4:50pm – 5:10pm
  • Engineer Your Life Outside Your Classroom – Put Your Extracurriculars to Work”, Sat,  Oct 28, 10:00am – 11:15am
  • Planning for Life After Graduate School, Sat, Oct 28, 2:45pm – 3:45pm

Additionally, our Grad SWE business meeting will be on Thursday, October 26, 4:30pm – 5:30 pm.

Sessions by your follow peers and academics can be an impactful learning experience at the national conference. If you can’t attend We17, look out for graduate programming at WeLocals and at We18. These sessions are BY graduate students, FOR graduate students. If you would like to get involved, look for calls for applications for WeLocals this fall or for We18 in early March 2018.


Look out for more information on the blog as we approach WE17!