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Society of Women Engineers empowers females

May 8, 2013

Logo of the NIU Society of Women EngineersNorthern Illinois University’s Society of Women Engineers (NIU- SWE) is dedicated to empowering women in a male-dominated field.

Its mission is to “stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.”

NIU-SWE has made outstanding progress on campus and in the community, enabling women to succeed in the STEM fields through outreach, camps, workshops, and more. Through its work with young women who want to pursue engineering as a career, NIU-SWE has carried out the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology’s goal of strengthening the STEM pipeline.

Along the journey of encouraging women engineers, many members of NIU-SWE became outstanding student leaders. This chapter also received several awards from the national SWE organization, including “best outreach” and “recruitment and retention of female students.”

SWE President Pettee Guerrero, along with members Jennifer Case and Michelle Case, received Outstanding Women Student Awards from the university. “SWE gives me the opportunity to empower girls to pursue careers in engineering,” Guerrero said. “The activities I participated in with SWE lead me to getting honored with an outstanding student award.”

CEET Dean Promod Vohra and Pettee Guerrero

CEET Dean Promod Vohra and Pettee Guerrero

Outstanding Women Student Awards are intended:

  • to encourage the full participation of women students in all facets of the university experience and in their communities;
  • to support their development of corresponding strengths, both cooperative and competitive; and
  • to celebrate their achievements and contributions, including those not usually recognized by other award programs.

“SWE has been a really good opportunity for me to reach out to young women and let them know that this is a field they can pursue,” said Michelle Case, a senior electrical engineering major. “Because of my involvement in SWE’s outreach programs, I was fortunate enough to win an Outstanding Women Student Award.”

NIU-SWE provides outreach opportunities for its members, which include helping local students with science fair projects and assisting with summer camps for young girls interested in STEM.

“SWE is a really great club to get young women involved in engineering and STEM fields,” said Jennifer Case, a senior mechanical engineering major. “It was a big honor to win the award alongside all the other women with really impressive backgrounds and skills that they brought to the table.”

NIU-SWE is one of the five recipients this year of the McKinley “Deacon” Davis Diversity Award, given by the Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities (PCSM) this year. Davis was director of NIU’s Special Programs and founder of the CHANCE Program, which has opened many opportunities for minority groups on campus.

The last time the College of Engineering received the award was in 2007. The event took place April 15 at the PSCM Diversity and Inclusion Summit.