Welcome to FY20!

Hi, my name is Ceci Klauber and I am the new FY20 Graduate Member Coordinator (GMC)! In this role, I work with the rest of the Grad Leadership Team to foster a strong community and network for graduate students in SWE by supporting new and continuing programming, facilitating communication between graduate students in SWE and SWE graduate student groups, and representing the interests of graduate students to the Society. 

In serving as Graduate Member Coordinator Elect last year I truly enjoyed working with the amazing grad students and young professionals who choose to use their precious free time to embody the mission and values of SWE, both at the society and section level. Y’all are amazing! 


Carolyn Chlebek (FY19 GMC) and I receiving a SWE Mission Award – Silver on behalf of the SWE Graduate Community at WE18 in Minneapolis.

Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from the last year and look forward to what FY20 has in store!

Highlights from FY19

-The Mentoring Program expanded to include graduate student mentoring of undergraduate students! Many of you volunteered to share your grad experiences and the new program was a success – enrolling over 100 undergraduates!

-We rolled out a new format for sharing our learning content – YouTube videos! If you haven’t seen them yet, be sure to check out How to Create a Personal Website for Self-Promotion and Social Media for Self-Promotion today! We even shared tips on how to plan an event for your grad group around the videos- check out our Event Protocol Database for more details.

-We increased our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) efforts with informative blog posts about inclusion in engineering education and gender expansive engineering and a reading group. Our FY19 D&I Liaison also had the opportunity to speak at a SWE Hawaiian Islands event on underrepresented genders. You can read more about the experience on the blog!

What to Look Forward to in FY20

-WE19 planning is in full force! Keep an eye out for details on the Graduate Member Meeting, Networking Reception and Social – we’d love to meet you in person in Anaheim, CA. We will also be promoting sessions presented by graduate students, on topics such as mentoring and resiliency, and an ASEE SafeZone diversity training workshop. Consider applying for the Collegiate Leadership Institute or ALWE also!

-Have you seen the fresh new look of our newsletter? The new platform allows us to use multimedia within our emails and provides us with neat analytics that will inform future improvements to how we communicate with the GradSWE community.

-We are excited to continue well-received programming such as professional and personal development through webinars, YouTube videos, and the Mentoring Program. We are also excited to continue growing our D&I, globalization, and professional student outreach efforts.  We’ve got a great team this year!

What were your highlights of FY19? What do you hope to see from the GradSWE Leadership Team in the upcoming year? Let us know in the comments!


Cecilia Klauber is a PhD student at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX and the FY20 SWE Graduate Member Coordinator.


SWE Grad Community Leadership Application Announcement!

Interested in joining the SWE Graduate Community Leadership Team? Now is the time to apply! Check out the application and be sure to apply by April 1!



The SWE Graduate Community Leadership Team is looking for motivated and passionate people to serve as new coordinators for FY20, with roles starting in July 2019. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the SWE Grad Community! Potential positions include:

  1. Graduate Member Coordinator-Elect (GMC-E): Assists the Graduate Member Coordinator in fostering strong community and a network for graduate students in SWE by facilitating communication between graduate students in SWE and SWE graduate students groups, and by representing the interests of graduate students to the Society.  Note: this position has a two-year commitment.
  2. Learning Content Coordinator (LCC): Hosts webinars for the graduate student community through the year. Also develops YouTube videos and other learning content.
  3. Social Media Coordinator (SMC): Ensures current and up-to-date communication and engagement through social media and other online outlets.
  4. Mentoring Coordinator (MC): Facilitates the GradSWE Mentoring Program along with the other MCs.
  5. WE Local Programming Liaison (LPL): Assists in facilitating a positive experience for graduate students at WE Local conferences.
  6. International Graduate Team Leader (IGTL): Leads a team to develop resources for international graduate students and the globalization of GradSWE.
  7. Diversity and Inclusion Liaison (DIL): Promotes the support of minority groups in STEM fields. Facilitates relationships between affiliate groups and graduate student members for this effort.


The Process

Applications are due by April 1, 2019 11:59 PM CDT (midnight).

The SWE Grad applications for all positions can be found at https://goo.gl/forms/Z3nsr8Mn8KPyUDYu2

The SWE HQ application (required for the GMC-E position) can be found here.

Note that all positions require the SWE Grad application and the GMC-Elect position requires both the SWE Grad and SWE HQ applications.

Applicants will be notified within two weeks of the deadline if there are additional questions and to schedule a phone interview. If you have any questions during the process, please contact Ceci Klauber at grad-coordinator-elect@swe.org

Got Questions?

We will be hosting a Google Hangout on Wednesday March 20 at 7:30PM CDT to answer any questions you have about the different roles or the application and selection process. Use this link to sign up to join us! 

Be sure to follow SWE Grad on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we will highlight the benefits of being part of the SWE Grad Leadership Team and give tips for submitting short answer responses or creating a SWE resume.

Questions can also be directed to Ceci at grad-coordinator-elect@swe.org

Other Ways to Get Involved

Consider getting involved more with your local professional section, collegiate section or GradSWE group!

Consider joining a specific SWE Grad Team, like Diversity and Inclusion, International, or Professional! Some of our coordinators lead teams of passionate students in bringing about exciting new programming and initiatives and you can participate by reaching out to the appropriate Coordinator/Liaison.

We look forward to receiving your applications and getting to work with you!

WE Local season is in full swing!

WE Local season kicked off last week in Baltimore, Maryland!

Our very own Angelica Payne from the GradSWE Mentoring Team presented a session that was well received! Titled “A Case Study on Mentoring Millennials,” her presentation used experience from our mentoring program to share about how to identify mentoring topics of interest to proteges and participants left with resources and tactics for facilitating mentoring relationships.

WE Local in Tampa, Florida kicks off today and our WE Local Liaison, Kazi, is on site, assisting the local planning committee and participating in the collegiate competitions. If you’re attending, keep an eye out for her! Check out the hashtag #WELocal on Twitter and Instagram to follow the excitement for Tampa or any of the local conference.

If you are planning to go to Tampa or one of the other conferences, comment or share to facilitate grad student meet-ups! Our Graduate Programming Coordinator and Coordinator Elect, Mujan and Isabella, will be attending WE Local St Louis and I will be attending WE Local Bellevue – we’d love to meet you!

Want to be a part of the excitement? It’s still not too late to register!

St Louis (March 1-2, 2019, Registration Closes February 15!)
Denver (March 15-16, 2019)
Bellevue (April 5-6, 2019, Early Registration Ends March 8! Save $25!)
International Options (Bengaluru and Berlin)

You’re more valuable than you think – and GradSWE needs you!

I’ve seen several colleagues go through their graduate career and get to the ‘mid-life crisis’ point. You may be familiar with it: frustration at experiments or advisors, trouble finding a job, proposals get rejected, wondering if you made the right decision entering grad school in the first place. The good news is, that phase is a common symptom of people who are nearing the completion of grad school, if they resolve to be finished and move on to bigger and better things.

It’s at this point that many people seek mentors. And GradSWE can help with that, connecting you to people who can offer encouragement, share their journeys in your particular field, be a sounding board for you next steps, and serve as role models in a career path you may be interested in.

But what you may not realize is that there are many grad students and undergrads in GradSWE who would love to talk to someone like you too, for the exact same reasons you may be interested in a mentor yourself! Your experiences presenting at lab meetings and conferences, drafting articles on your research, working in industry, figuring out which experiment to run next and how, juggling lab and classes and life, learning about potential career paths in your field, and many, many other things you’ve accomplished even in your first few years are nuggets of gold to those aspiring to follow in your footsteps. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? What do you wish you knew? You already have all you need to make a very real difference in someone’s life. And what’s more, you might just learn something yourself, gain a great connection or friendship, and develop the marketable skills of training and developing others.

So if you’re interested in getting connected and sharing the love, we’d love to have you as part of GradSWE’s mentoring program! To learn more about it, visit http://gradswe.swe.org/mentoring.html or email the Mentoring Team at gradswementoring@gmail.com. To become a mentor, simply fill out the form with a few details on your experiences ( https://goo.gl/forms/M13dEyBkJYZKgCMW2 ). If you’re a grad student interested in getting connected to a mentor yourself, you can enroll through this link:  https://goo.gl/forms/zNHhPv6Al2bhL4I33 . And remember, you’re more valuable than you think, and we’d love to have you as a mentor!


Angelica Payne

GradSWE Mentoring Co-Coordinator 2018

Graduate Member Spotlight: Nancy Lu

Graduate Member Spotlight: Nancy Lu

Nancy Lu


Chemical and Biological Engineering

Expected Graduation Date: 2021

Princeton University

Nancy’s SWE involvement began as an undergraduate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As Internal Mentorship Chair in 2014 she worked to plan events to partner underclassmen with upperclassmen. As Vice President of Campus Relations in 2015 she was in charge of all MIT SWE social events. Because SWE partnered with the MIT Fall Career Fair, she also spent two years on the Career Fair Committee. As the Week-of-Logistics Director in 2014 and Treasurer in 2015, she was part of the team that brought over 350 companies to the MIT Career Fair. Lastly, she was a Senior Class representative in 2016, where she planned events to celebrate the seniors in SWE. Her favorite SWE memory is attending her first annual SWE Conference in 2015, where she was able to reconnect with the alumni that inspired her to join SWE.

During her time at MIT, Nancy was also actively involved in MIT’s First Generation Project, where she participated in a poster campaign to raise awareness of first generation students at MIT.Kaempf, FGP poster 3

At Princeton, Nancy is involved in GWiSE (Graduate Women in Science and Engineering), GradSWE, GEC (Graduate Engineering Council), and various mentorship activities such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) near-peers, Princeton’s Scholars Institute Fellows Program for low income/first generation undergraduates, and ReMatch, a summer research program for Princeton underclassmen.

Nancy’s accolades include a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention (April 2018) and the Princeton Environmental Institute Mary and Randall Hack ’69 Graduate Award (July 2018). She has been selected as a finalist for the WE18 Poster Competition  – be sure to check out her poster on Thursday, October 18, 2018 in Minneapolis!

Thesis Topic: Multiphase Flow in Porous Media

The motivation for Nancy’s work comes from oil recovery in shales, a type of layered rock. The layers of the rock have different properties such as pore sizes. The interfaces between these layers are often not sharp but rather have transition regions with gradients. Her current project involves understanding how gradients in pore sizes affect oil recovery. Using a model microfluidic porous medium with controllable pore size gradients, she can systematically understand how the displacement pathway of the oil is affected.

She plans to go into research after graduation, but is still deciding on the specific industry. Regardless of the industry, she still plans to find time to mentor young women who are pursuing STEM.

Nancy’s hobbies include baking and bartending at the graduate student bar. She is also a fitness instructor and MIT alumni interviewer!

Fun Fact about Nancy: She can fold an origami crane while hula hooping!


Get a mentor, be a mentor – enrollment opening soon!

New semester, new challenges. Don’t face them alone! Mentors can be great sounding boards, helpful guides, and lifelong friends as you navigate grad school and your career. But how do you find a mentor?

There are several ways to find mentors. They can be peers, family members, colleagues, friends, or people further down your career path than you are. You can meet them by chance, be introduced by a common friend, or network your way to the conversation.

GradSWE offers a mentoring program where graduate students can be matched with mentors or guided to reach out to their perfect match. GradSWE members can enroll to get a mentor through the protege enrollment survey, available soon in the GradSWE newsletter. Mentors in graduate school, academia, industry, and government who have graduate degrees and engineering backgrounds can enroll to mentor graduate students through the mentor enrollment survey, also available soon in the GradSWE newsletter.

New this year, GradSWE is adding an undergraduate component to the mentoring program. Undergraduates interested in graduate school can sign up for a mentor as well, and graduate students can enlist to mentor their younger selves.

Keep an eye out in the newsletter for your opportunity to become a mentor and inspire and guide undergraduates and graduates interested in your career, or to find a new mentor!

Not yet receiving GradSWE news? Join the listserv here: https://goo.gl/forms/2vrHPI7gScjLtc3s1 

Recruiting and retaining minority students: How current graduate students can help

As graduate students, it can feel as though we have little power to change institutional practices that would increase diversity in a meaningful way. However, my own experience has shown that current graduate students can take action to encourage their university to add or improve diversity initiatives. I wanted to take this blog post as an opportunity to highlight some successful initiatives being implemented by universities across the country and then to suggest some ways that we, as students, can help enact change. It is my hope that by sharing these ideas, they can be adopted in more places and further improved.


Many universities are beginning to recognize that an effective way to attract talented minority applicants is to simply make the effort to recruit at conferences and universities with many minority undergrads. Universities already send representatives to conferences, and by choosing to recruit at new places, they are able to diversify their applicant pool and make a PhD seem attainable.

In a similar vein, some universities have begun hosting diversity preview weekends for minority students. I know that such a weekend was key in my decision of where to go to undergrad; thus, I am hopeful that such programs will similarly help convince more minority students to pursue a graduate degree. Yale University recently started a pilot program of this sort after a couple of students decided to meet with the graduate school’s diversity office to suggest it. Many other universities are also looking for ways to increase diversity on campus and may similarly be open to such a program. If you are mentoring any minority undergrads, then I would highly encourage you to direct them to Científico Latino, which lists many more programs of this sort, including ones at Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and MIT.


One of the frequent comments I have received from administrators when trying to increase diversity and inclusion on campus has been that it is “impossible” to get faculty to do anything. Therefore, I am always incredibly inspired (and heartened) by programs that have successfully motivated faculty to support diversity initiatives. A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Sherilynn Black, the Associate Vice President of Faculty Development at Duke University, when she came to campus to speak about her success increasing the acceptance and inclusion of minority graduate students at Duke. (If you’d like to hear Dr. Black speak about persisting in STEM as a minority, then check out her inspiring talk from the 2016 SACNAS Conference.)

I was particularly impressed by her continual insistence that faculty members should be taking a larger role in creating a supportive environment for minority students and that the burden of diversity work should not be placed on the students themselves. This was particularly inspiring, as she has actually managed to increase faculty buy-in through “culturally-aware mentoring” workshops that faculty are required to attend if their graduate students are on certain grants.

These trainings are successful, in part, because they make faculty members aware of their own culture and background, and thus more accepting of where their student’s background might be different. Furthermore, they assume that most faculty members do want to be effective mentors and frame the trainings through this lens. Duke has also put together an extensive site devoted to mentoring, if you’d like to check out more resources on this topic.

Suggestions for making these a reality

If you’d like to increase minority graduate student recruitment and retention at your university, here are some tips from my own experiences to get you started.

  1. Collaborate with the other diversity groups on campus: As my mom used to say, “many hands make light work;” besides, many voices raised together are harder to ignore. To that end, my gradSWE section increases our reach by collaborating with other diversity groups. These groups have connections with administrators beyond the ones we normally interact with, who can help provide funding or institutional support for our ideas. Furthermore, these groups intimately know the problems facing their own members; together we can craft solutions that support all under-represented groups.
  2. Start at the department level: I have found it much easier to encourage faculty who I already have a relationship with to come to diversity events. Additionally, I have found that trainings at the department level can increase buy-in, particularly when the department chair is supportive of the events.
  3. Find sponsors and advocates: Finding the administrators or professors who care about these issues–and are willing to champion them–can make all the difference in turning your recruitment and retention ideas into reality. In addition to providing funding, they can also encourage their colleagues to support your initiatives and attend trainings.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask: If you have ideas of how you can improve your department or school, schedule a meeting with administrators to share them. From my work on our university’s Title IX board, I learned that oftentimes, administrators don’t realize something is a problem for graduate students because no one has spoken up. Even if you are unsuccessful in pitching your idea, you may find some other program that you can help implement or lay the groundwork for the next person who makes a similar request.
  5. Don’t give up: While many schools profess a commitment to increasing diversity, it is an uphill battle to realize change. Administrators will often be unwilling to make large changes, but keep advocating for and supporting your fellow graduate students. Together, we will be able to realize more inclusive graduate programs.

Other ideas?

I’ll end this blog post by inviting you to share with me any additional programs that you know of that have been successful in increasing the recruitment or retention of minority students. If you email these stories to me at gradswe.dil@gmail.com, I would love to feature them in further blog posts. Whether it is something your university’s diversity office has implemented or a program run by your SWE section, please send it my way.