WE16: Opportunities for Involvement!

We are only TWO months (plus a few days) away from the WE16 national conference in Philadelphia, PA! Participating in a conference session is a great way to justify attending the conference and network with fellow SWE grads. Here are TWO ways to become involved in WE16 as a grad student! These opportunities include:

  1. Rapid Fire sessions – call for applications
  2. GradSWE member survey/option to participate in a panel at the GradSWE Meet & Greet

Rapid Fire Sessions: Year after year, Rapid Fire presentation prove to be a very beneficial way for SWE grads to practice presenting their research in front of their peers and a panel of judges. The call for applications is officially open and due on Monday, September 26th at 11:59 pm EST. Please fill out the application here. Master’s and PhD students are highly encouraged to apply.

GradSWE Member Survey: Does your university have a GradSWE committee? If so, we would love to have your input! Each GradSWE committee arranges their funding and committee structures in a slightly different way. We are planning to devote time to discussing this at WE16. Ultimately, these efforts will create a reference of “best practices” as GradSWE committees become more prevalent across the country. We greatly appreciate your input! Please fill our the survey here.

For questions about either of these opportunities, Please email Rachel at grad-programs-coordinator@swe.org with any questions.


Rapid Fire Submission Deadline Extended!

The Rapid Fire submission deadline has been extended until Wednesday, September 30 @ 11:59 PM CST! If you wanted to submit an abstract but didn’t have the time to write one in the past few weeks, no problem! You still have a few more days! Click here for a link to the original blog posting containing the application link.

Don’t think your research fits into the NAE Grand Challenges? Don’t have enough research background or data to reach the 500 max word limit? No worries, submit your abstract anyway! All abstracts are welcome!

There are two Graduate Rapid Fire Sessions: Rapid Fire Session I on Friday, October 23rd, and Rapid Fire Session II on Saturday, October 24th. Both are from 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM.

Please email all questions to Rachel Unruh, Graduate Programming Coordinator – Elect (grad-programs-coordinator-elect@swe.org).

Happy writing!

WE15 Rapid Fire Sessions – Call for Applications!

Applications have opened for the WE15 Rapid Fire Sessions in Nashville, TN! Rapid Fire allows SWE members to present their research to a panel of judges and audience of peers from a wide array of STEM disciplines. Emphasizing concision and clarity, these sessions contain a series of five-minute presentations followed by a brief Q&A session for each presenter. Presenters are given feedback immediately following the session.

This is a great way to receive feedback on your presenting skills. The audience is smaller, and presentation times are shorter than for traditional conference platform presentations. Rapid Fire also serves as a great way to justify your attendance at WE15 to your advisor and others!

In addition to presenting your own research in an efficient and concise manner, we ask that you consider how your research fits into the world in a broader sense, specifically in the context of the fourteen NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering (http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/cms/challenges.aspx).  With technological advances becoming more frequent and humanity becoming more interconnected than ever before, it is imperative that we reflect on how our technological discoveries affect humanity at large, not only in our own local daily environments. Toward this aim, the NAE has identified the below grand challenges facing engineers of the 21st century:

  1. Make Solar Energy Economical
  2. Provide Energy from Fusion
  3. Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods
  4. Manage the Nitrogen Cycle
  5. Provide Access to Clean Water
  6. Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
  7. Advance Health Informatics
  8. Engineer Better Medicines
  9. Reverse-Engineer the Brain
  10. Prevent Nuclear Terror
  11. Secure Cyberspace
  12. Enhance Virtual Reality
  13. Advance Personalized Learning
  14. Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery

We invite you to reflect on how these challenges fit into your own research and write your abstract in this context. If you are interested in participating in a Rapid Fire Session, please fill out the application here. The application will be closed at 11:59 PM EST on Monday, September 21. Applicants will be notified of their status by Monday, September 28, 2015. All graduate students are STRONGLY encouraged to apply!

For questions about the application, please email:

Richelle Thomas, Graduate Programming Coordinator (grad-programs-coordinator@swe.org)

Rachel Unruh, Graduate Programming Coordinator – Elect (grad-programs-coordinator-elect@swe.org)

Transferable Skills and the Pursuit of PhD

The entrepreneurship bug is alive and well today. We hear about starts as pragmatic as Uber to frivolous games that waste hours on end. It seems that today’s economic environment is ripe for innovative ideas and disruptive technology. It’s all very exciting to hear about technology licensed out of graduate labs and someone else’s uncle’s friend who’s app was purchased for millions of dollars. For the academic, however, it begs the question:

Does graduate school provide any transferable skills that would be valueable in the marketplace?

Of course we can endlessly debate the utility (or lack thereof) of an advanced degree but the reality is that there are more MS and PhDs graduating every year than academia can employ. There are numerous articles that spell doom and gloom for the budding scientist about to enter the job market. Theoretically, we scientists have it better than English majors, yet the prospects are still not so optimistic for STEM majors.  Whether we choose to explore a non-traditonal career, a career in industry or start our own venture, it’s clear that academia cannot absorb us all.

With this is mind, I came across an interesting site this week where the blogger helps wayward academics find their way to starting their own education/teaching/consulting business. It may be worthwhile to explore the option of starting your own venture, either as a source of additional income or full time. The Scholarpreneur took and interesting view of the academic background and gave it a validity that I rarely see. Learn more about the site and their offerings here.

Upcoming Webinar for SWE Graduate Students and Academics

Managing Dual Careers in Academia

Thursday, August 13th, 2015
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm (EDT)

About the Webinar: 

This webinar focuses on the challenges and advantages of dual-career couples with one or more members in academia.  In the first half of the webinar, two couples will tell their personal stories as well as strategies they find helpful for managing dual-careers.  The second half of the webinar will focus on answering questions from the audience.

Speakers: Jacquelyn and Robert Nagel, Shannon and Jim Ciston

Click here to register for the webinar

Financial Advice for Graduate Students Part 2: Insurance

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 @ 10:30 AM CST


Compensation packages in the US can be confusing for new graduates.  This series of three webinars is designed to explain the three main elements of a compensation package: salary, retirement and insurance.  In the first talk we discussed income and taxes in the US.  I gave a brief overview of the other non-monetary forms of compensation such as paid time off (vacation, sick leave), retirement and insurance.  In this, the second, talk we will delve deeper into the various insurance products that will likely be offered – or that you may wish to purchase on your own.  These will include medical, vision, dental, disability, and life insurance.  In the third talk we will discuss retirement plans offered by US employers, how they work and the pros and cons of each.  The goal of the series is to acquaint you with the likely options you will encounter as you transition from university to paid compensation so as to empower you to make the correct choices for you and your family.


Karen Feigh is an Associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Aerospace Engineering. As a faculty member of the Georgia Tech Cognitive Engineering Center, she leads a research and education program focused on the computational cognitive modeling and design of cognitive work support systems and technologies to improve the performance of socio-technical systems with particular emphasis on aerospace systems.  She is responsible for undergraduate and graduate level instruction in the areas of flight dynamics, evaluation of human integrated systems, human factors, and cognitive engineering.  Dr. Feigh has over nine years of relevant research and design experience in fast-time air traffic simulation, ethnographic studies, airline and fractional ownership operation control centers, synthetic vision systems for helicopters, expert systems for air traffic control towers, and the impact of context on undersea warfighters.  Dr. Feigh serves on the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), as the Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Helicopter Society, and as a guest editor for a special addition of the AIAA Journal of Aerospace Information Systems on Human Automation Interaction.

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1947376196552823553

February Webinar: Transitioning from Academia to Industry

Speaker: Candice F. Landry, PhD, MBACandice Landry

Candice has over a decade of experience as a technical contributor on multi-national projects, including R&D for academia, government, and industry; offshore rig construction; and investor relations.  She is a champion for multi-discipline STEM programs.

She graduated from Louisiana State University with a B.S. in Microbiology, and pursued her interests in experimental science to earn a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Houston. Candice earned an MBA with a Finance specialization from Tulane University thereafter, and now works to integrate technology and business as an Intellectual Asset Manager for Halliburton.

Candice serves as the Director of Technology for the Women’s Energy Network, and as a lead on outreach programs aiming to transition STEM graduates into a career in industry. Through Halliburton’s Diversity and Inclusion Program, she travels to speak with SWE members about professional development and emerging technologies in oil and gas.

Title: Transitioning from Academia to Industry

Preparing to launch your career in industry can be daunting. Join the discussion on how to make the move from academia to a professional venture smoothly. We will discuss key elements that will prepare you to successfully launch into the process of building a professional network and crafting a resume that works for you!

Join us on Thursday, February 26th at 10:00 AM CST! 

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3825966577167265025