Student takeaways from the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology
For Miami CEC students, the annual Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference has led to job and internship offers, networking opportunities, and more.
At this year’s WE23 conference, Zainab Sohrabi ’24 (Mechanical Engineering) accepted a full-time job offer. Marguerite Smith ’24 (Electrical Engineering, Engineering Management) found the opportunity to engage future leaders for her student organization. Ogo Elisha Wigwe M.S. ’23 (Mechanical Engineering) received 3rd place in the graduate category of the Collegiate Rapid Fire Competition. And all of them – like so many other tens of thousands of attendees at the annual conference for women in engineering and technology - made unforgettable memories networking with incredible women in their field.
After having attended last year’s SWE conference in Houston, Zainab and Marguerite both knew they wanted to make it out to Los Angeles for this year’s gathering. “It's the biggest career fair for women in engineering in the world,” said Marguerite, explaining one reason why attending the SWE Conference is so valuable to her. “It's the best opportunity to get a really great job.” Zainab, who received a full-time job offer from Northrop Grumman in Baltimore while at this year’s conference, said the career fair was a big reason why she chose to attend. “I decided to go with the intention of looking for a full time job.” Now that she has accepted her offer, Zainab says she is thrilled. “I feel relief that I have a job lined up when I graduate,” she said.
While the road to WE23 looked different for Zainab and Marguerite, friendship and camaraderie – and some seriously advanced planning – had a lot to do with each of their journeys. Zainab purchased a plane ticket for herself as soon as she found out the 2023 conference would take place in L.A. “My friend lives out there,” said Zainab, “so I was able to stay with her while I was going to the convention.” Zainab also was able to reconnect with Miami CEC alumna Ogo Elisha Wigwe (M.S. ’23) whom she knew from their shared mechanical engineering classes. Ogo had been invited as a finalist to present her master’s research thesis at the conference, and ended up winning third place in her competition category. (Ogo is now pursuing a Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.)
Marguerite’s road to WE23 also involved plenty of advanced planning, because her goal was to bring as many engaged members of the Miami chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) with her as possible. Like many student organizations on campus, SWE operates on a participation points system. The more events a group member attends or volunteers at, the more points they earn for eligibility for student organization funds for conference attendance. Since Marguerite is the current president of the Miami University chapter of SWE, she led the effort to apply for a Miami Women's Giving Circle Grant, which the student organization ended up receiving. Because of the grant, 9 members of the Miami University chapter of SWE (those with the most participation points) got the chance to go to the conference.
Part of the reason why Marguerite wanted to bring as many chapter members as possible to the conference is because of the challenges she has experienced being a woman and an engineer. “There are a lot of days where it's tough,” said Marguerite. “Maybe you're not respected all the time, or you get talked over in groups. So to go to a big conference where there's 20,000 women there who all want to help you, and teach you things, and network, and connect with you, and help you get the best job possible, or understand how to do things is just the best experience that I can give these girls.”
Next year’s SWE conference (WE24) will take place in Chicago from Oct. 24-26, 2024.