Status Update from Professional Graduate Task Force Leaders

Hello readers!

Here’s an update on what your faithful Professional Graduate Task Force Leaders (April Keene and Elizabeth Rasmussen) have been up to recently!

Research on enrollment into management vs technical post undergraduate programs

As mentioned in a previous blog post we are interested in understanding the motivation/ pathways that lead women to  pursue a technical graduate degree.

Professor Teresa Carador recently published a research paper (that can be found at this website: identifying how a large portion of women with an undergraduate degree in engineering change career paths to a management role. Dr. Carador explains this as:

“an inverted role hierarchy in engineering [that] may explain these gendered career patterns and their unintended consequences. By inverted role hierarchy I mean the valuing of technical over managerial roles.”

Elizabeth reached out to Professor Carador and has started a discussion about collaboration to study the connection between women pursuing a technical or managerial graduate degree after obtaining a technical undergraduate degree.

We will keep you posted on the work as it progresses, and may ask YOU to help us along the way!
Cardador, M. Teresa. “Promoted Up But Also Out? The Unintended Consequences of Increasing Women’s Representation in Managerial Roles in Engineering.” Organization Science (2017).

Coming Soon: GradSWE Podcast

Many of the resources that GradSWE is developing benefit professionals, too, but may just need to be packaged and delivered differently (i.e. email vs. blog post).

Welcome the Professional Graduate Team to FY18

We have been working with the GradSWE Webinar Coordinator, Elisa Duesing, to establish the process for implementing a podcast through SWE that will be tailored to graduate students who are or have been professional members. This is in support of our focus to expand products our team is already pursuing and package them in new ways to support not only professionals but also collegiates on the go.

We’re still learning the ropes, but expect to see something in the next few weeks with more information on where to subscribe.

If this is something you like or have a topic you’d want us to discuss on the podcast, please reach out to us.

Grind work (i.e. keeping things moving forward)

Grind work is the work that is necessary to successful operations. In video games it is when one has to do repetitive and relatively simple tasks in order to achieve something needed in advanced stages of a game. Think of repetitive virtual fishing to obtain enough food to go on a quest. Or like in a mathematics class when you do 50 practice problems so that you really understand the problem type and can also go back to the work in the future and understand what was done and why.

For us, this translates into attending GradSWE conference calls, checking up on our ( email account, and other miscellaneous things like writing this blog post.

Grind work is not necessarily extremely exciting, but it is worth noting and gives transparency to the inner workings of GradSWE.

Whew, that was a lot, enough about us, we’d love to hear from you! If you read something here that you would like to contact us about please see below for our contact information.

How to contact us:

If you have an idea for a resource that isn’t already available but would be beneficial, or have any other Professional GradSWE thoughts — please email us!

Additionally, if you are a company representative and would like to know how you can help your employees in continued education we would love to help out, please email us too!

Professional program email –


Grad Member Spotlight: Elizabeth Rasmussen


Elizabeth Rasmussen_Formal Picture

Elizabeth Rasmussen

MS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington – Seattle

Elizabeth has been a member of the Society of Women Engineers since 2012. She currently serves as a Professional Graduate Team Leader on the Graduate Leadership Team. She was Michigan Tech’s SWE section webmaster for two years and chaired the Certificate of Merit outreach program that recognized and encouraged over 600 high school girls across 3 states who excelled in math and science classes. She also developed a workshop on campus to teach 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) skills to students and local community members. In addition, she has contributed to several events involving SWE over the years, such as: Registration Chair for the 2013 Region H conference, volunteer and participant for Michigan Tech’s SWE Evening with Industry Dinner and Networking Event, and student volunteer at the SWE Annual Conference talks.

Elizabeth has received numerous scholarships/awards including the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Grant, Michigan Tech Presidential Distinction Scholarship, has been awarded as a American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Kenneth Roe Scholar. Her research work has been recognized internationally as a part of the ASME Young Engineer’s Paper Contest, and she has won numerous conference presentation awards including placing 2nd at the 2014 National Society of Women Engineers Conference. In the past year, she has also become a co-inventor on two pending patent applications. Congratulations, Elizabeth, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

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

I am currently a thesis based Master of Science (MS) candidate in the College of Engineering at University of Washington – Seattle with plans to continue onto my PhD. My major is Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in thermo-fluids. My expected MS graduation date is June of 2018.

Give a brief explanation of your research experience.

During my undergraduate education, I was inspired on all the innovation happening in fluid mechanics and heat transfer sector of mechanical engineering. Understanding fluid flow affects all industries ranging from healthcare and microfluidics, to the energy industry and renewable energy sources like wind and solar power generation. My current research focuses on thermal management of electronics; specifically, I am interested in high reliable liquid cooling for high heat semiconductors such as those found in computer servers, automotives, and solar cells. The results from this research will be transformational in making energy efficient current standards, while enabling future advancements. Thus, this research is integral in the improvement of computational, transportation, and energy practices.

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

I want to be a subject matter expert in my field, and along the road of my career inspire others to find their own subject to master and then go out and master it! Given this, I would like to continue working in a research and development role in either an industry, or government sponsored laboratory. I interned at MIT Lincoln Laboratory for two summers and had an amazing experience there, and think it would be an honor to be able to return.

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

I love to trail run, road bike, and paint. I am also a fierce competitor when it comes to Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have a passion for a wide variety of music, ranging from Rachmaninoff to Kids These Days.

Start the Year off Right: How to get involved in SWE

If you are looking for more ways to get involved in SWE, and you are reading this blog post, you are off to a good start! SWE is a great resource for graduate students, and has many options so that you can find what works best for you. Below I have outlined several of these options and ways to get involved.

  1. First step in getting more involved is becoming an official member! Check out the membership options at The “Collegiate to Career” is a great ,affordable way to get involved in SWE.
  2. Find GradSWE through all media outlets
    1. Join the e-mail list:
    2. Check out the GradSWE blog (where this article has been posted):
    3. Watch out for helpful webinars. These will be advertised through the e-mails as well.
    4. Like us on Facebook!
    5. Follow us on Instagram @swegradcommunity
    6. Check us out on twitter @SWE_grad
    7. Check out resources on Some of the resources meant for professionals will also be useful to you in your professional development. Look out for scholarships on as well!
  3. Go to a conference! (Annual conference info is found at , and look out for the WeLocal conferences this coming spring)
    1. The annual conference offers an INCREDIBLE amount great professional development and networking opportunities.
    2. Career Fair – Many companies come to these conferences to recruit great students like you! Additionally, there is a great program to help graduate students as they transition into jobs in academia – ALWE, so there are options for everyone.
    3. The sessions offered throughout annual conference are a great way to improve your soft skills, and there will be several sessions geared specifically towards graduate students.
  4. Get involved at the section level at your university
    1. Get to know the women in your department to form a good network and support system. These women will be your allies throughout graduate school and afterwards, so use SWE to help connect with them. Most engineering departments are male-dominated, so it is a bonus to be able to meet and engage with the few other women in your department.
    2. Get involved with outreach events to engage young girls in engineering
      1. These events will allow you to practice teaching STEM topics and will be incredibly beneficial if you are considering a career in academia. They are also great times to practice your leadership skills, which are transferrable to any career path.
      2. Show off your research! These events are great ways to be reminded that what you do in the lab really does matter. Talking to kids about your research and getting your ideas out to the public is a very important, and often underrated, role of a grad student.
    3. Mentor undergraduate students through your SWE section. These students may be considering going to grad school and would greatly benefit from your knowledge!
    4. Get connected with future employers! Sections often have professional development events as well as opportunities to engage with future employers.
  5. Get involved at the societal level
    1. Region Grad Reps are the point person for their regions, and represent the needs of graduate students. Get more leadership experience and make a difference in your region!
    2. Looking for a mentor? Check out Grad SWE’s mentoring program
    3. Like providing professional development workshops? Look into the Leadership Coaching Committee, which provides great professional development opportunities for all sections. Help sections provide their members with great new resources.
    4. Think we need more grad representation in societal SWE? Check out all of the amazing committees within SWE, and if the topic appeals to you, request to join. You’ll learn more about the area in SWE and help us to be more inclusive of women at all stages of their career. Additionally, you can check out leadership roles within your section, or even the SWE Senate!

  1. Check out some of the Affinity Groups! These are great resources to meet more amazing members, and offer additional resources for SWE members that qualify as double minorities in engineering. There are also some affinity groups geared towards minority-related careers, such as small businesses and women in government.
  2. Have more ideas and want to support the Graduate SWE Team? Send in ideas for webinars, new events, and ways to support grad students! Feel free to e-mail these thoughts to me at:
  1. Check out some of SWE’s great tool kit, specifically for grad students:
  2. Have something you’re proud of? Send us a spotlight post so we can feature you on the blog! Feel free to send in spotlights for your friends as well! Share your accomplishments with the GradSWE community!

How to Make the Most of Your Mentoring Relationship

You finally have found a mentor through a program or strategic networking. Now what?

The first thing you want to do in set goals for the relationship. The goals could be anything:1) emailing the mentor every month, 2) discussing career options or 3) even just ask a new open ended question monthly.

Once you have your goals, it is time to introduce yourself and share your goals. Communication in the mentoring relationship is critical. As the protege, it is your job to email your mentor. It is better to communicate with your mentor in the beginning of the relationship. If you are only going to email them when a problem arises, tell them that!

Suggested Questions

We have compiled a list of suggested questions to keep the conversation going.

  • How did you land your current role?
  • If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult boss? How did you handle it?
  • How did you learn to embrace failure?
  • What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how is it valuable
  • What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?

GradSWE International Student Toolkit

Hi everyone! And welcome to all the international students that have made the move to the US this past week to start graduate school in Fall 2017 🙂 . This post is designed to help you gain some knowledge on crucial aspects of moving to America. If you have any questions or would like to receive advice on any of these topics, feel free to email me at Good luck!

    • Proximity to campus is one of the most important factors while picking your new home, whether it be by walk or by public transport
    • Make use of realtors – many of them provide services that are free for students and they know great places near campus
    • Pick roommates wisely – nothing is more disrupting to your education than a hostile environment in your new home
    • If you need your personal space, choose to share an apartment but have your own room and bathroom
    • Choose an apartment that has a good amount of natural lighting – studying under artificial light can cause more strain to your eyes
    • Universities are huge and can be overwhelming to navigate, so make sure you mark important campus spots on Google Maps – library, places to eat, computer center, your classroom buildings, etc.
    • Research your university resources and make use of them – the international office, career center, free resume reviews, etc.
    • Reach out to your subject librarian, learn how to order books for inter library loans and how to access library resources using a remote login from home for papers, journals, etc.
    • Follow your university on Facebook and participate in events, both social and educational and start networking
    • Find your preferred on-campus study spots and save them for when you need some time to study alone
    • Go to every orientation you can despite how overwhelming and monotonous they may seem – they add value to your international learning experience
    • Get involved with graduate student organizations like SWE – even ones that are only within your university
    • Use on-campus facilities such as your gym, yoga sessions, sports centers, etc.
    • Take care of your mental health – research your campus for free counseling resources
    • Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you’re stressed or overwhelmed
    • Open a bank account with your university’s recommended bank
    • International students don’t typically have a credit history in the US, so find a credit union that will give you a credit card even with no credit score
    • If you plan on staying in the US long term, it is important to start building your credit history as early as possible
    • Do not fall for fraudulent calls targeting international students claiming to be the IRS asking for your social security number


Grad Member Spotlight: Akshaya Iyer

Grad Member Spotlight: Akshaya Iyer



Akshaya Iyer

Associate Consultant

MS, Civil Engineering

BS, Civil Engineering

Akshaya Iyer, an associate consultant at Spire Consulting Group is the International Engagement Team Lead for FY18. This position was newly created this year to increase GradSWE’s international presence and to provide resources to international students in the US to help them achieve success.

Akshaya moved to the US from India in August 2015 to pursue graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin. During her time as a graduate student, she was the President of her Graduate Student Organization and the Co-Director of the International Student Agency, where she developed a passion for helping international students find their feet and feel welcomed to the US when they make the big move. Akshaya is also a personal style blogger on her fashion blog, The Iyer Order .


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

I have an MS in Construction Engineering and Project Management from the Civil Engineering department of UT Austin. I graduated in December 2016.


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

I currently work in the construction claims and litigation industry. I perform cost and schedule analysis on complex construction related disputes, which is pretty much exactly what I was interested in during my graduate studies. Very few people get the opportunity to find a job in the tiny niche that they are interested in and I feel very lucky to have my job. My career goals are to build my skills within the project management realm, even if it is in a different industry down the line.


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

A majority of my time outside of work is spent creating content for my blog, The Iyer Order . I’ve always had an affinity for fashion and writing, and I combined the two to create my blog in December 2016, right after I graduated with my Master’s degree. I love being able to use my creative side on a regular basis despite having a career in a technical field. It has also taught me patience, perseverance and time management skills. My dream is to one day turn my blog into a business while staying true to myself and my style!

I also love fitness, working out and staying healthy. I am a vegetarian that loves to experiment with different cuisines. I also love coffee – particularly if served in a cute coffee shop!


What’s a fun fact about you?

I used to be a freelance nail artist back in my undergraduate days in India!

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!