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Society of Women Engineers - 5th Annual P.O.W.E.R. Conference

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Anika Chowdhury, Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Society of Women’s Engineers.

On Friday, February 10, UM-Dearborn’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) took over the Engineering Lab Building to host their fifth annual “Professional Opportunities for Women in Engineering and Research” (P.O.W.E.R.) Conference.

The conference helps women in STEM improve their "soft" professional skills and interact with working women engineers and researchers. The conference brings together esteemed women in engineering, from students, to alumni, to employers, for a chance to network, learn from each other, and grow as a community.

The SWE chapter at University of Michigan is closely associated with the International Society of Women Engineers, a non-profit educational and service organization founded in 1950, aiming to encourage women to pursue engineering, provide women in STEM a voice in the industry, and help them overcome obstacles due to underrepresentation.

UM-Dearborn’s SWE chapter is one of the largest student organizations on campus, composed of students from different engineering majors, ranging from mechanical, biomedical, computer engineering, and more.

The organization hosts a wide variety of on-campus events to promote an inclusive community within the institution, in addition to allowing its members to connect with larger SWE organizations and off-campus members. The members of the organization are actively involved in SWE’s many technical, professional, social, and service events both on and off campus.

SWE executive board members with Dr. Ghassan Kridli, Dean of Engineering and Computer Science. Photo//SWE

The P.O.W.E.R. Conference can easily be tagged as SWE’s biggest event at UM-Dearborn, with a congregation of over 130 students, 21 company representatives, 10 faculty, and 12 alumni in attendance, as well as students and faculty members from Henry Ford College.

The morning session kicked off at 9 a.m., with a speech from Dr. Ghassan Kridli, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), addressing the students and the organizers in attendance.

Kridli talked about the shift in prospective women engineers between 2012 and 2021, which, though promising, could still be considered below requirement. His words alongside the statistics presented were to applaud current women in STEM and motivate others to pursue a career in engineering. Kridli ended his speech by introducing Janet Hall, the first UM-Dearborn women CECS graduate and a former Ford employee.

Alumni panel at SWE’s conference. Photo//Yara Elayyan/SWE

After four rounds of workshops, the event concluded at 5 p.m. with a raffle and closing speech by SWE members. Attendees collected resources to broaden their awareness of career opportunities and develop their professional skills for current and future careers. The day-long event received well-rounded applause from the attendees and representatives.

Nick Sitarski, from IVS Department at Toyota Motor North America, commented on the P.O.W.E.R. Conference: “What a wonderful event put on by your team. Toyota North America and I are grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. Keep up the good work, and I hope to see some of you in the office one day.”

HARMAN’s representative, Nicole Traylor, made a post on LinkedIn saying, “Today, the HARMAN International University Relations team had a chance to be a part of something amazing! The University of Michigan-Dearborn held their SWE Power Conference today which empowered women in engineering. It was incredible to see how many members came together to listen and learn from each other. We spoke with talented members and even got to meet some staff for the first time in person instead of virtually. HARMAN held a workshop on the importance of LinkedIn and how to build your brand. What a great experience to be a part of!”

To know more about future events hosted by the SWE, follow them on Instagram (@umd_swe), or join their organization via VictorsLink.

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