Welcome from the FY18 Diversity and Inclusion Liaison!

Hi GradSWE! My name is Bridget Hegarty and I am a PhD student at Yale University in environmental engineering. I am so excited to join the GradSWE Leadership Team as the Diversity and Inclusion Liaison (DIL) this year! This role is a new one for the Grad Leadership Team, so I will start my first post with an overview of what I hope to accomplish and wrap it up with some of SWE’s resources on this topic.

What is the DIL? 

This role was created to facilitate relationships between affiliate groups and grad student members in order to further promote the inclusion of minority groups in engineering. Through this position, I will work to support minority grad students in two main ways. The first will be to connect women and minorities in STEM with SWE’s resources whether or not they have an active local section. My second focus will be to create tools and initiatives that grad groups can use to increase diversity and foster inclusion on their own campuses.

What are my plans for the coming year?

Before getting this role, I didn’t know anything about SWE’s affinity groups. Therefore, my first task is to introduce them to the grad community. To learn more about them, check out the end of this post. Alongside connecting interested GradSWE members with the affinity groups, I will also be collaborating with their leaders to better engage grad members.

Additionally, I will be collecting best practices and creating toolkits that gradSWE sections can use to increase their own D&I efforts. I will start my efforts by focusing on ways that SWE sections can help to increase both the diversity of applicants to grad school and their subsequent recruitment. If you have any thoughts on this topic, whether it is an initiative that has been successfully implemented at your university or an idea that you think is worth exploring, then please send them to gradswe.dil@gmail.com.

What resources does SWE already have for D&I?

Affinity Groups

Affinity groups exist at the society level to bring together SWE members that share a common identity. They are open to anyone in SWE and are a great way for grad students to get involved with the broader SWE community. In addition to being a resource for their members and a platform for networking, they advise SWE on issues affecting their group’s interests. You can read more about them here: http://bit.ly/2hsU5FO.

If you are interested in reaching out to any of SWE’s affinity groups, check out their Facebook pages: SWE African-American AGSWE Latinos AGSWE Native-American AGSWE LGBTQ And Allies AGSWE Global Women Engineers AGSWE Small Business AGSWE Women in Government AG and SWE Entrepreneurs AG.

Joint Memberships           

SWE also offers reduced membership rates to members of the National Society of Black Engineers, the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. To learn more about the options available, check out: http://bit.ly/2hsMjvC.

SWE’s Research and Trends for Women in STEM Website

If you are looking for either an overview of trends or an in-depth look at the research surrounding women in engineering, then research.swe.org should be your first step. Launched last year, this site brings together the latest research on women in engineering. It hosts the results of SWE’s own studies on women in engineering, their annual literature reviews, and contains links to many other sources of information.

Diversity and Inclusion Knowledge Cards

These cards were developed to act as a catalyst for discussion on D&I and to help guide reflection on how companies can foster a welcoming environment. Each card presents a key aspect of identifying unconscious bias. They were developed by SWE and Arup to be tailored to the specific needs of the engineering community.

How can you contact me?

As this role is new, my efforts will be evolving based on your input. I look forward to hearing from you at gradswe.dil@gmail.com!

Grad Member Spotlight: Celine Liong

19 September 2016

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Celine Liong

PhD student, Bioengineering, expected graduation June 2019

Stanford University

 

Celine helped to start her undergrad (University of California San Diego) SWE chapter’s first Team Tech team. She also helped in piloting the engineering school’s first overnight stay program where UCSD SWE members hosted newly admitted high school students so that they could learn more about the opportunities at UCSD’s engineering and how SWE can serve as a resource.

Celine has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG), the Stanford Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE)-STEM Fellowship, the UCSD Boeing-IDEA center scholarship, the San Diego SWE continuing student scholarship, and the UCSD SWE-California Space Grant Consortium Research Scholarship. Congratulations, Celine, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

 

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

Bioengineering PhD at Stanford. I expect to graduate June 2019.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
I work on electronic skin, a flexible and stretchable electronic device designed to mimic the tactile sensing of real human skin. I hope to apply e-skin to treat phantom limb pain. E-skin can be used to create active neural prostheses so amputees have a sense of touch and a way to treat nerves that are randomly firing. 

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
I hope to work in industry R&D in the future, focusing on wearable electronics that have therapeutics or diagnostic applications. 

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I like to run, rock climb, and cycle. I also like to bake and take advantage of sunny California weather either by going to the beach or reading outside.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I’ve never watched Lord of the Rings.

Grad Member Spotlight: Bridget Hegarty

5 September 2016

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Bridget Hegarty

PhD student, Environmental Engineering, expected graduation May 2018

Yale University

 

As an outreach chair for three years at her undergraduate institution, Cornell University, Bridget facilitated numerous engineering outreach events.  Since coming to grad school, she founded the Yale section of GradSWE, served as a grad student advisor to undergrad SWE, and helped to facilitate Yale’s recent application to become an official SWE section. Bridget is currently the president of Yale SWE and is working to increase SWE’s presence on campus.

Bridget was a chair for the event which won the Outreach MOU Partnership Award while she was at Cornell, she was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship as well as the Community Service Award from the Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Congratulations, Bridget, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

 

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

If all my research stars align, I expect to graduate in May 2018 with a PhD in Environmental Engineering.

 

Give a brief explanation of your research.

I am working to develop gene-network models in cyanobacteria.  We will use these models to guide the genetic engineering of mutant strains of cyanobacteria capable of producing biofuel-precursor molecules at levels sufficient for industrial applications.

 

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

My answer varies with the day.  While most of the time, I respond that “I want to become a professor,” I am still exploring and am also considering careers in academic administration and STEM outreach.

 

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I travel whenever I have the opportunity; I am a voracious reader and an avid photographer.

 

What’s a fun fact about you?

I will be testing for my black belt in taekwondo within the next year.

Grad Member Spotlight: Ana Ramekar

22 Aug 2016

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Ana Ramekar

MS Candidate, Aerospace Engineering, expected graduation December 2016

University of Maryland, College Park

Ana has served SWE on a local level throughout the Baltimore-Washington Section as the Workshop Host for “Transitioning from School to Industry ‘Backpacks to Briefcases'” and “Communication with Confidence”. She has been a Professional Development Committee member for the “Aspire To Lead” event and a Professional SWE Liaison to University of Maryland as well as the SWE Social Committee Co-Chair. Ana has been nominated for the SWE Emerging Engineer and has been awarded the Women in Color Award and the Region E Professional Development Event Award for the Aspire to Lead event.

 

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

Aerospace Engineering MS candidate, January 2014- December 2016

 

 

Give a brief explanation of your research.

My research topic studies protruding aerodynamic shapes and other obstacles to better understand the aircraft performance cost and drag penalty. I’m essentially performing an aerodynamic trade study of obstacles in multiple configurations using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The results are useful to aircraft designers and planners who make decisions on where to install certain aerodynamic fairings or antennas on aircraft.

 

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

I’ve realized some of the best engineering outcomes are achieved when there are few barriers between the different disciplines on project. I want to apply the skills and knowledge learned in my degree to contribute to a multidisciplinary team and make an exceptional aircraft design. Specifically I want to make Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools more accessible earlier in aircraft design process to other ‘non-aerospace’ engineering teams, such as mechanical, structural and systems engineering teams.

 

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I cherish every moment I get to spend alone. I enjoy photography, drawing and being active. Two years ago took a plunge and enrolled in a yoga teacher training program and immediately started teaching at the campus gym when I got my certification. I taught a 7 am course and tried to help fellow students and undergraduates feel good about being dedicated to their health and setting aside time for quiet reflection. It was a very rewarding experience!

 

What’s a fun fact about you?

I learned to windsurf in the Gunpowder River where I live and pilot a Cessna 172 aircraft so I can attempt to intuitively understand aerodynamic forces and how they dynamically interact with lifting surfaces like sails and wings. At least that’s what I tell myself…

Grad Member Spotlight: Jordan Rutledge

8 Aug 2016

Jordan Rutledgeheadframe

MS candidate, Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, expected summer 2016

Colorado School of Mines

Jordan says she is, “lucky to be a member of the largest SWE collegiate chapter here at the Colorado School of Mines.” She says her favorite events to be involved with have been Up ‘Til Dawn to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research and Girl Scout Badge Day. Jordan has also been involved with Evening with Industry, where students get to meet and have dinner with female mentors just before Career Day on campus. During graduate school, Jordan volunteered with the Denver School of Science and Technology, a specialized STEM middle school that focuses on underprivileged students in Denver, where she was a science and math tutor and mentored several science fair projects. Jordan has also served as the Vice President for her department’s graduate women’s group, WiMMN (Women in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Materials Science, and Nuclear). This club welcomes all graduate students and focuses on a wide range of graduate life including professional development, career planning, financial planning, stress management.
Jordan has been awarded the Mary and Charles Cavanaugh Memorial Award, the H.L. Hazen Award in Process Metallurgy, the Most Outstanding Service Award Blue Key, and placed 3rd in the poster competition at the 2016 Society of Mining Metallurgy and Exploration Annual Conference. Congratulations, Jordan, on all your accomplishments! Keep up the great work!
What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?
I’m completing a Masters of Science in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering in the Kroll Institute for Extractive Metallurgy. I expect to finish my thesis and graduate in the summer of 2016.
Give a brief explanation of your research.
My research is on using tannins as a depressant for copper sulfide flotation applications. Copper metal is primarily produced from ore, where it is mined, crushed, put through a flotation circuit, smelted, and finally refined into pure copper. Flotation is the process where the copper is first concentrated, and it’s best described as a bubble bath for minerals. In the flotation cell the ore is introduced with chemicals and air, and is agitated. Different types of reagents (collectors, depressants, modifiers, frothers) are used to create the perfect conditions for separating copper from the rest of the minerals. With the right collector, the valuable copper minerals will become hydrophobic and cling to air bubbles going to the surface. Depressants like tannins are used to depress other minerals in the ore.
What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
I will be working for Silvateam, the company that sponsored my thesis, as a technical support and sales associate.  This job will let me visit mines around the world and apply tannins to different operations. Ultimately I would like to have a teaching position at some point in my career, but for now I’m eager to learn and explore the field.
What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I grew up in Colorado and was lucky enough to start snow sports when I was young, so you’ll typically find me snowboarding all winter. I love to travel and take every opportunity to see somewhere new.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I’ve been to 5 continents and 26 countries, here’s to exploring!

New GradSWE Student Mentoring Program

Hello GradSWE Community!

My name is Genevieve Kane – and I’m proud to be your GMC-Elect this year!  For my first blog post, I wanted to talk to you about one of the ideas that I am spearheading and hoping to develop for the GradSWE Community – a mentoring program!

Mentoring can come in many different forms, which is something that I’ve personally learned and experienced throughout my academic career.  I remember the first time I was exposed to the idea of having a mentor was when I participated in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a pre-engineering program offered through my high school.  In this program, we had a class called Engineering Design and Development (EDD), which allowed a team of high school engineers to find something they thought was a problem, and come up with a unique, technical solution to that problem (that has never been used or patented).  Every group was assigned a mentor, who was there to guide the team to a successful end to their project.  I remember struggling with this concept – not knowing what questions I COULD ask, SHOULD ask, or what I should really discuss when I met with this very wise, professional engineer.  Thankfully, over the years I have been fortunate enough to keep in contact with this wise mentor, and many others, as I became a mentor myself in PLTW, overseeing EDD projects.

Even though I wasn’t comfortable with asking questions and seeking advice in high school, there came a time in my undergraduate education where I didn’t have a choice anymore.  I think we have all experienced that point in our career where we reach a point that we hit some barrier – be it academic, personal, etc.  In my case, it was a specific professor who spent an entire lecture discussing why girls weren’t good at science.  At that point, I had no other undergraduate females in my STEM major, and no one to really talk to about how that made me feel.  So, I walked upstairs and I showed up at the office door of one of my female professors.  I must have waited ten minutes in the hallway before I had the courage to knock, but when I did, she welcomed me into her office with open arms, ready and willing to listen to what happened to me, and express her distaste that these situations were still happening in schools.  I remember that she told me it wasn’t anything I did wrong – and that I was a perfectly fine student who just needed to keep going to the finish.  I did, and on occasion, I would stop by and chat with her to discuss my progress, or ask advice about things like careers, graduate school, or how to deal with some issues that came up that might be unique to women.

Thankfully, by graduate school, I became more comfortable with the idea of asking for guidance and help.  I’ve attended two graduate schools, and in both I’ve received amazing guidance from professors that have helped me along the way.  I’ve found a plethora of good mentor relationships, including my very supportive and amazing advisor who always seems to know what to say when I need it, and even some graduate students who have gone through programs before me that continue to provide me with support and guidance along the way.  I feel very happy to say that I’ve even been able to dole out some sage advice to newer graduate students, professionals, and young engineering students alike, and maintain contacts with many of these people over time.

So – what’s the point?  My story is not so uncommon, it seems.  It takes time to become comfortable in your own skin, and to build relationships with your colleagues.  I’ve been approached by a lot of students over time, that have said they wished they had someone to talk to for guidance, and didn’t know who to turn to, or what type of relationship they even wanted to establish.  Just that they really wanted to have some guidance in their lives, and that it would be great if there was some way to help them make those contact.

My hope is that, by starting a mentoring program for graduate students, we can do something about this in our own SWE community.  In SWE, graduate students are everywhere – they exist as collegiate members, sometimes they have their own GradSWE groups, and half of graduate student members are part of the professional sections!  SWE has a lot of opportunity to offer mentorship to graduate students, with many potential matches available.   We, as graduate student, can also help mentor others, since we have had different experiences in life than some professionals who may be looking to head back to graduate school, undergraduates who might want someone to look up to, or even our graduate peers.

How do we start?  We are hoping to start by finding interested graduate students and professionals members in our community.  If you’re interested, consider filling out this survey:

https://goo.gl/forms/C1yZQXIAfrtfVPGn1

Once we have figured out the interest in different mentoring pairs, we will send out a specific application to those individuals so that we can assign good mentoring pairs.  Not all people will want the same experience or relationship with a mentor – some people may just want someone to contact by email if they have questions about their job hunt, or school hunt!  Others might want to meet in person, or work towards specific, set goals that their mentor can help them with.  We will do our best to match people up based on their interest level, and whether they prefer a local mentor, or someone that they can reach out to in another SWE region.  Our hope is that we can get pairs set up for WE ’16, so that a meeting can be arranged!

Thank you all for reading – and if you have any questions, please email me at grad-coordinator-elect@swe.org!  Hope you are having a productive, and fun summer!

Sincerely,

Genevieve

Grad Member Spotlight: Astha Khanna

25 July 2016

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Astha Khanna

PhD Student, Bioengineering, expected graduation May 2017

Clemson University

 

Astha has served as the professional Outreach chair of the Society of Women Engineers for the academic year 2015-16. During her tenure, she was very actively involved in raising around $600 to sponsor registration fee and travel of Clemson SWE members to attend the WE15. Astha was involved in organizing info-sessions conducted by representatives from GE Healthcare and Deloitte consulting on tailoring resumes and preparing for co-ops, internships and full-time positions. Astha has served as the Vice-President of the Clemson Bioengineering Society as well mentoring Bioengineering undergraduates in designing biomedical devices.

Astha has served also as the President of the International Student Association at Clemson University for the academic year 2015-16 for which she conducted dialogue sessions to address the academic and professional needs and concerns of graduate population at Clemson. As President, she organized the sponsorship of 10 female graduate students at Clemson to attend the Women’s Leadership Conference. held at Clemson in Feb 2015.

Astha was a finalist of the Three minute thesis contest held at Clemson University in Mar 2015. She was nominated for the Outstanding Women Graduate Student Award in Clemson University in Feb 2016 for outstanding academic accomplishments and multiple leadership roles. Astha was awarded a professional enrichment grant (PEG) by Clemson University Graduate School in April 2015 to present my research at the Society for Biomaterials (SFB) conference held in Charlotte, NC in April 2015. She was appreciated as the Best Moderator in the Clemson University Bioengineering departmental seminar sessions in spring 2015.

Astha has been featured in the the Clemson newspaper, awarded the Community Impact Medal at Clemson University, and featured as a research presenter at the Society for Biomaterials annual meeting held in Charlotte, NC in April 2015. She was an invited presenter at the Southeastern Medical Device Association annual meeting held in March 2015, where her research was highlighted as a top 20 technologies from young companies and university labs. Congratulations, Astha, on all your accomplishments! Keep up the great work!

 

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

I’m currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Bioengineering at Clemson University. I expect to graduate in May 2017.

Having earned 96 credit hours at Clemson University with a GPA of 3.72, I have published my doctoral research in several conference proceedings, have completed 2 certifications on 1. Technology Entrepreneurship from Clemson University where I specialized in areas of medical device commercialization, advanced leadership and project management and 2. Bio-compatibility of Medical Devices from NAMSA (by virtue of which I’m a biological safety specialist trained on ASTM and ISO protocols to assess biocompatibility of medical devices. I’m currently enrolled in a certificate in Engineering and Science and Education issued by Clemson University which completely aligns with my passion for teaching after getting a doctorate. I have demonstrated attainment of knowledge from diverse areas and thus evolving into a well-rounded individual with a record of academic achievements and leadership roles.

 

Give a brief explanation of your research.

My doctoral dissertation is on designing biocompatible coatings for vascular devices. I’m currently working on designing a coating of human serum albumin, a natural blood protein for its potential to shield adsorption of adhesive proteins and platelets in the blood making it promising in preventing the incidence of thrombosis (blood clot formation within the blood vessels). Human albumin coating fabricated using our technology has been also shown to mitigate the hyperplasia of smooth muscle cells which is a major complication post a stent implantation and bypass graft surgery.

 

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

After completing my Ph.D., I hope to work as an assistant professor in bioengineering. My passion for teaching interests me to work in academia and embark on a career in education.  I have been the head teaching assistant/ lab instructor for the course biochemistry laboratory techniques in Clemson university for the past 9 semesters. I have also been a biomedical device design mentor to undergraduates in the dept. of bioengineering for 3 semesters for which I mentor students in identification of clinical need, device design and testing, budget and market analysis and regulatory approval. The teaching experience has been fulfilling and insightful for me. The great evaluations that I receive every semester from my students bolsters my passion for teaching after getting a doctorate.

 

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

  1. Listening to music
  2. Reading articles on spirituality and astrology (I like studying/unravelling the deep mysteries/secrets of the universe that we don’t know about).
  3. Cooking delicious food (I’m a big foodie!)
  4. Having fun conversations with friends

 

What’s a fun fact about you?

Fun Fact: If you ever want to make me happy, just feed me. I’m a big foodie, I can keep eating the whole day and never get tired from eating. People eat to live but I live to eat.