Graduate Member Spotlight: Rasika Bhalerao

Graduate Member Spotlight

Rasika Bhalerao

Ph.D.

Computer Science

Expected Graduation Date: 2021

New York University

Rasika has been involved in SWE since her freshman year of undergrad at the University of Washington, when she joined the section of about 30 students. During her second year, she served as a Director of Evening With Industry, an annual 1000-student career fair and 200-member banquet. During her junior and senior years, she served as the treasurer of UW’s section. By the time she graduated, the section had over 400 students, and she greatly enjoyed watching it grow. This year, she is the Social Media Coordinator for the SWE Grad Leadership Team, and continues to work on her graduate degree at NYU. She has been to several SWE conferences, and you may see her at one soon!

Rasika’s hard work and dedication go further than SWE alone. She has been involved in acapella, and her most cherished award is the one that her acapella group named after her, the Rasika Bhalerao Award, in 2017. It is awarded to the most helpful and caring member. She also works as a teaching assistant in the Computer Science department.

Rasika’s research is focused on applying machine learning and natural language processing tools to cybersecurity. She is currently working on a project analyzing cybercriminal underground forums.

Rasika is keeping her options open for her future career opportunities. Her love of teaching (and research interests) inspire her to pursue a career in academia. She is also, however, currently making strong industry connections in her field.

Outside of computer science, Rasika enjoys playing the piano and rock climbing.

Fun Fact about Rasika: Despite being allergic to cats, Rasika participates in a cat fostering program.

rasika

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Graduate Member Spotlight: Megan Beck

Graduate Member Spotlight: Megan Beck

Graduate Member Spotlight

Megan E. Beck

Ph.D.

Materials Science and Engineering

Expected Graduation Date: Summer 2019

Northwestern University

This year, we are excited to have Megan Beck serve as our Graduate Programming Coordinator, where she has been instrumental in ensuring there is a graduate student presence at WE18. She has organized abstract submissions by graduate students and is organizing the graduate student meeting at WE18. Her hard work has ensured the graduate presence at annual conference so if you are planning to attend conference, be sure to meet Megan! Before she joined the societal GradSWE team, Megan gained substantial SWE experience at the section-level. She has worked diligently over the last two years to establish and grow a GradSWE group at Northwestern University. Her work has paid off, as the group is officially recognized by NU, and they have secured a $3000 grant to fund a suite of professional development, outreach, and social programming.

Megan has also been involved in her graduate community outside of SWE. She has worked over the last year and a half to co-found a new group in her department (Material Science and Engineering). This new group, Materials Science Alliance for an Inclusive Community (MatSAIC), advocates for inclusion and diversity in STEM fields. The group works to promote interactions between graduate students and professors from a variety of backgrounds by inviting Materials Science and Engineering Department colloquium speakers who demonstrate outstanding efforts in promoting inclusion in STEM to take part in the quarterly MatSAIC seminar series on their own experiences and how they promote diversity and inclusion. She also serves on the NU Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Student Leadership Team.

Megan has proved her technical merit and has been recognized with a long list of awards. Most significantly, she was awarded fellowships though both the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduation Research Fellowship program. Megan has demonstrated great interest and skill in teaching and has received a Teaching Certificate from Northwestern SEARLE Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. This summer, she was selected by the Kellogg School of Management at NU and received a Management for Scientist and Engineers Certificate.

 

Research Topic: Self-Aligned van der Waals Heterojunction Diodes and Transistors

Because numerous novel and attractive properties have been revealed in atomically thin, low-dimensional materials, it is possible to envision a future comprised of low-power, tunable, flexible, ultra thin devices. Toward this goal, it is necessary to develop fabrication methods specifically for these atomically thin materials instead of relying on the conventional silicon based methods.  Megan’s Ph.D. research at Northwestern University has focused on developing device fabrication processes that allow us to fully leverage the properties of low-dimensional materials and make more complicated electronic device geometries. Specifically she and her team developed a processing platform that has (1) minimized short-channel effects (channel lengths < 200nm) and improve current saturation in MoS2 transistors, (2) enabled dual-gate control of antiambipolar behavior in MoS2-black phosphorus thin-film junctions via e-beam lithography and (3) been adapted to wafer-scale processing via photolithography for dual-gated self-aligned MoS2-CNT heterojunctions. Overall, this self-aligned fabrication method represents an important step toward the scalable integration of van der Waals heterojunction devices into more sophisticated circuits and systems.

After graduation, Megan sees herself working in scientific consulting or R&D in the semiconductor industry. Outside of her technical endeavors, Megan is very involved in her church community and spends her free time cooking, crocheting, and playing with her rat terrier, Una.

Fun fact about Megan: Megan grew up in a small town (pop. 2400) in rural northern Idaho. She is one of a handful of people from her town who moved more than an hour away for their undergraduate degree and one of an even smaller number that left the state after undergrad.

beck_headshot_2016

 

Call for Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect

WE17

Apply to be GPC-elect. Applications due Dec 31.

Are you excited about the growing number of opportunities for graduate students in SWE? Did you attend WE17 or a past conference and were inspired to be a leader in the GradSWE community?

The GPC-elect works alongside the GPC to organize the graduate student focused events at the annual conference. Learn more about the graduate leadership team here. Through the GPC-elect role, you get to work with a wonderful team of leaders to help shape sessions impacting the SWE graduate community. Additionally, there are numerous networking opportunities accompanying this role where you can create long-lasting connections. For this role, you would serve as GPC-elect for WE18 and GPC for WE19 (attendance is required at both conferences). This position runs from January 2018 to December 2019.

Applications are due Sunday, December 31 at 11:59 PM PT. Application here. For question, contact past-GPC Emily Hoffman at emilyhoffman18@gmail.com.

Best Practices: GradSWE events

In this blog post, I will cover some of the best practices GradSWE sections or groups can follow and implement to have successful events. I will categorize this into two sections – type of events, and best practices or ideas or tips for engaging more graduate students.

Type of events

  • Industry-sponsored Lunch and Learn sessions with companies – Networking, Interview Skills, and Resume Review.
  • Professional sessions from Career Center – LinkedIn workshop, Life after grad school, Elevator pitches training.
  • Biweekly discussions about topics facing grad women in STEM such as presentation skills, communication, writing manuscripts/thesis/dissertation.
  • Mentorship Program/Panel – Undergraduate students learning from graduate students about conducting research, applying to graduate school, academic or research internships.
  • Panel discussion – some topics could be Women engineers in academia/industry, how to be assertive in the workplace.
  • Research poster competition – encouraging graduate students to showcase their research.
  • Social events – mixers, painting/other arts, Halloween party.

Best Practices

  • Take support from nearest SWE Professional section.
  • Strategic advertisement and marketing – sending a bulk email about GradSWE events through College of Engineering or graduate advisors of various engineering departments or International Student Services or similar offices.
  • Collaboration with other student organizations on campus and organizing joint events.
  • Work with larger SWE section at the university to include GradSWE section into a corporate sponsorship packet.
  • Work with Women in Engineering (WE) program at your school to collaborate for events.
The SWE Leadership Competency Model, What’s Next for Leaders in SWE, and FY19 Call for Society Nominations

The SWE Leadership Competency Model, What’s Next for Leaders in SWE, and FY19 Call for Society Nominations

Hi SWE Grads!

I wanted to make my post this week something fruitful for future society leaders, as well as a bit of a personal story about SWE from me to you.    This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the SWE Region F Leadership Summit in Essex Junction, VT at Globalfoundries.

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We discussed many of the governance changes and bylaws amendments that are coming up (See our Facebook   for links, SWE Governance Website or an All Together Article about the Bylaws Proposals for more info).  But, one of the things that was a really informative, and stuck with me was a talk given by SWE President Jonna Gerken, called “What’s Next in SWE for Me?”

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Jonna did a great job of discussing how SWE as a whole is starting to embrace the idea of non-traditional paths to leadership, and how leaders from these paths have a lot of diverse perspective to offer the society.  This resonates with me in particular, because I (like many of you, SWE Grads) have never been a section president.  Up until the point where I became a Region Grad Rep in Region F, I had never held an official SWE position!  I did champion and lead grass roots efforts to increase membership in SWE, but I never did it in an official capacity.  Now, I have been an RGR, Graduate Member Coordinator, Region Collegiate Senator, and am part of several society and region based committees!   An unconventional path, but a lot of knowledge and insight can be gained sometimes, especially when you go down The Road Not Taken.

So – why am I bringing this up now?  I get to talk to a lot of SWE members that are looking to improve themselves, and want to become more involved with leadership opportunities in the society.   Jonna’s talk highlighted something called SWE’s Leadership Competency Model which is a model used by the society to help members develop leadership skills.  The model highlights 5 core competencies, including:

  • Communication
  • Self-Management
  • Business Acumen
  • Leadership Abilities
  • Mentoring, Coaching, and Sponsorship

SWE believes in this model, and uses it as a way to assess present, or future leaders in the society!   It is also a way to present positive feedback, and give others a way to work on their skills where they may need some help.  Two of the resources that SWE provides are things that could even be used to help you with your career/ personal path.

I’ll start by highlighting the Leadership Development Plan and Vision Statement Template.  This is a document that provides an instructive way to help you see what your leadership goals are, and how you can achieve them!    You can use this template to answer questions like, “Where do I want to take my Career?”  for professional development or “What is my ultimate objective and leadership goal within SWE?”  I have also used this resource for things like “What is the highest mountain I will climb next year?” or “What fitness level do I want to achieve?”  Each of these gives the template a little bit of a spin, but it does help you create a strategic plan to answer all of these questions!   The guide then takes you through a series of questions, and gets you to list the actions you will take, the obstacles you may face, what strengths and resources you can leverage to achieve your goal, and how to hold yourself accountable to reach it.  Overall, a great way to help you look at your goals in a new light.  For me – it also helped me realize that if I couldn’t answer some of these items, I wasn’t sure how invested in the goal I truly was.

Now that you have a goal, though, what do we actually use to assess ourselves on, and how can we do it?  SWE provides this handy Leadership Competency Model Evaluation Spreadsheet to help you with just that!  I know that many of you sit there and take quizzes to see if places like Buzzfeed can tell you, “What Type of Pizza Are You?” Although this isn’t nearly as delicious, 10 minutes out of your day may give you some perspective on which of these five categories you are a rockstar in, and which you may want some more resources to help you learn more about.

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The best part is that it’s simple to use – and gives you a list of all competencies on the tab labeled “Dashboard.”  Once you self assess, and determine if you feel the need to improve in an area, you can take a look at the “PD” tab, for the Professional Development Content SWE provides to help move forward in those categories.  Remember though:  Watching a webinar from SWE’s awesome Advanced Learning Center on something like Being a Thought Leader may be a great start to your leadership development in some areas – it isn’t going to happen overnight.  You need to internalize the changes you want to make, and be proactive in utilizing the tools in every day life to truly improve.

 

FY19 Nominations for Society Leadership

Now that we’ve discussed some of these awesome tools, I want to highlight one way that you could use them in the future.  Recently, a call for FY19 Society Nominations may have crossed your inbox if you are a Professional Member, or a Collegiate Senator.  This does apply to some of GradSWE’s membership, as half of grad students choose to identify as professional members in the society!  Although you may not be part of that group, I’m still choosing highlighting this information as your Grad Member Coordinator because there are a few collegiates that this post may still pertain to, as they may have the leadership experience/ the passion to nominate themselves, or others, to a position in the society.  Also – this is something that you could use, if your Vision Statement and Goals point you toward future society leadership in SWE.

What is on the slate for FY19 Nomination?  

Slated positions available for nomination are:

  • President-Elect
  • Treasurer
  • Director (3 positions available)
  • Trustee (3 positions available)
  • Deputy Speaker of the Senate
  • Senate Secretary

How does this involve me now (if I am a collegiate), and in the future?:

Remember how I told you before that we are proposing Bylaws Changes?  One of these changes will allow all collegiates voting rights in SWE.   According to The Eligibility Requirements in the SWE Bylaws for Elected Positions, voting members of the society have the eligibility to run for these positions!   Although some region leadership opportunities may go away if these bylaws changes go into effect, you may one day be able to nominate for these society positions, or positions as committee chairs/ chair-elects, too!

Regardless, your vote could change the outcomes as early as this FY19 slate, which is an exciting thing for SWE if the Bylaws Changes are accepted!  The eligibility requirements do ask for specific experience for different positions, though, so you need to be aware of what leadership requirements may be before you nominate.

What do they use to evaluate leadership?

Ah, here’s the tie in – SWE uses the leadership competencies that they resourcefully teach us about to help pick the slate for nomination!  Beyond meeting eligibility requirements, candidates are vetted by the Society Nominating Committee to understand where they stand with each of the competencies and pick the best group of nominees that they can.  It’s important to understand though, that SWE doesn’t want leaders that are necessarily strong in all competencies.   The power of diversity is important, and having a diverse body can happen when you have different strengths and weaknesses.

 

I want to nominate myself, another leader, or be nominated in the future.  What do I do?

If you are ready to nominate now, you need to fill out the Candidate Consent Form and Nomination Form.  Do it soon!  It’s due September 28th.

For those of you that are striving for leadership in SWE in the future – reach out to people who are currently serving.  Reach out to GradSWE and let us know that you are interested in understanding the SWE Career Paths available to you!  Reach out to the Senate and Committee leaders and ask them what it’s like to be involved, and how you can be involved in the future.  We exist and thrive because many SWE leaders take time to build relationships with future leaders and help preserve the leadership pipeline by educating them in SWE, and in professional pursuits.

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I leave you with this photo – RPI Alumni at all different stages of their personal, professional and SWE lives!  I became more involved in SWE because some of the women in this photo invested their time and attention in helping me develop as a SWE leader.  “What’s Next in SWE for Me?”  I don’t know yet, Jonna – but I know now that I have the tools, the resources, and the mentorship to figure it out!

 

Sincerely,

Genevieve

 

 

Create an effective LinkedIn profile today!

LinkedIn is similar to a professional Facebook. It is a powerful networking and industry research tool. It is a great platform for professional networking and provides additional features (more than a resume).

Here are some tips to create a strong LinkedIn profile and utilize the available resources:

  • Important areas to highlight in the profile page:
    • Photo: It is strongly encouraged that you have a professional photo on LinkedIn because people feel more comfortable connecting with you when they can see a photo.
    • Headline: Create a keyword rich headline based on career interests that will attract the attention of recruiters.
    • Skills & Expertise: Highlight your skills and get endorsed by people within your network.
    • Recommendations: This is one of the reasons LinkedIn is better than just a resume because the recruiter/hiring manager is able to see recommendations from past supervisors, co-workers, etc.
    • Include Experience, Education, Projects, Publications (links to online publications), Courses, Honors and Awards, Location (where you want to get hired).
  • Use the LinkedIn platform to people/members who graduated with similar degrees to identify industries/career fields/employers.
  • You can find connections and get introduced through them to people in their network.
  • Important things to remember:
    • Get a customizable URL
    • Utilize your summary space
    • Post, like, share daily to reach a larger audience
    • Just like a resume—use numbers!
    • Remember to update your profile with a new job/skill
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations
    • Don’t connect with people you’ve never met without an introduction
  • Resources:
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2017/01/15/linkedin-101-how-to-craft-a-stellar-profile/#356276d05379
  • https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-create-killer-linkedin-profile-get-you-noticed-bernard-marr
  • https://www.inc.com/john-nemo/how-to-create-a-killer-linkedin-profile.html

 

Grad Member Spotlight: Genevieve Kane

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to our new Graduate Leadership Team.  We’ll start with our new GMC, Genevieve!
Kane_GenevieveGenevieve Kane
Graduate Student in Materials Science and Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Genevieve Kane has been a member of SWE since 2007. She is very happy to serve as Graduate Member Coordinator of the society in her 10th year of SWE membership.  Genevieve became a member while an undergraduate at SUNY New Paltz,  and brought SWE programming to her undergraduate campus.  Upon entering graduate school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Genevieve became the Region Graduate Representative, aiding in GradSWE group start-up and in Region Conference Planning for graduate sessions.  She continues to be involved in her region and locally, acting as the Region Collegiate Senator for FY18, as well as continuing her outreach efforts and being part of the Local Host Committee for WELocal Providence.  Genevieve is also a member of the Women in Academia committee, and the Bylaws committee.

 

What degrees do you hold, and what are you currently studying?

I took a very unique path through school – I completed three bachelor’s degrees in five years, where I studied Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Music (Performance, Violin) at two separate institutions that were 2 hours away from each other (SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Albany)!  After that, I received a Master’s degree from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Albany (SUNY Polytechnic) in Nanoscale Engineering.  I’m now a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and am studying Materials Science and Engineering.  It seems like I’ve been studying a lot of different things, but one thing that I have always believed is that many aspects of science and technology are related.  I try to remind students of that whenever I do outreach!

Give a brief explanation of your research experience

Previously, my research focused on Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (for my MS) and solving problems that photoresist manufacturers face with out-of-band wavelength lights.  Now, my research focuses on creating novel microscopy techniques to help understand, predict, and actively control grain growth in metals.  

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

That’s a great question and one that I think many people struggle with.  I spend some time teaching at a community college prior to starting my studies at RPI and I loved it, so I would definitely be interested in a professorship.  At the same time, I am also really enthusiastic and love my research, so I would love to explore the options that government labs and industry have available to me as well, because I think that my research experience could really be beneficial in that setting.  As my time in grad school closes, I think that I’m narrowing my options down, and looking for something that offers me the freedom of controlling my research interests, while still allowing me to be an educator!  We shall see.

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

When I’m not in lab, you can usually find me at the gym for Zumba, or hiking and wandering the wilderness!  These are things that I really love and I hadn’t been prioritizing much in the beginning of grad school – so I’m happy to have more time to do them now.   I also love to sing and play music and do so through concerts, musical theater, etc. I am also a language enthusiast, and love to travel.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I received a black belt in karate when I was 10 years old!  On occasion, I teach self defense classes to women, because I believe that it is important to be able to defend yourself if the need arises.

Do you have any advice for our GradSWE members?

If there are three things I can share with  you in my experiences from grad school, they would be:

  1. Do something that you are passionate about, and surround yourself with the right people to help you achieve what you hope to.
    I personally had a lot of trouble in the beginning of grad school because of my choices in research and advisor.   I am now a very fortunate graduate student with an advisor that I work well with, and research that I am passionate about.
  2. Take time to enjoy grad school, and have a healthy work/life balance!
    This is something I will undoubtedly emphasize over the course of the year in blog posts – taking a break and going home for the day to sleep, do the things you enjoy, etc, is as important as your research.  Grad school has a physical, and emotional impact on all – it is a stressful time in your life and many students need that rest and relaxation to avoid burnout.  I didn’t realize this for a long time – but I find I am much more productive now because I do take breaks.
  3. Utilizes all of the resources you are given in grad school and that you have available through SWE.
    A lot of students come out of school and say things like “I wish I had gone to more professional development seminars.”   I can’t personally say that – because I take the time to go to as many seminars about research and professional development that I can!  I also utilize my career center if I have questions about my resume, and my SWE contacts as well.  Your school, company, and professional organizations have a ton of resources available to you to help you grow as a professional, and to obtain jobs.   Use them!