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Last week, 8,600+ women engineers met in Nashville, TN for SWE’s annual conference. We celebrated the 65th anniversary of SWE’s founding in style in Music City Center and returned to Dallas inspired and excited about the rest of FY16!

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Some members from Dallas SWE who attended WE15! From left to right: Sree Sripada, Jordan Kayse (SMU SWE), Barbara Read (Dallas SWE President), Nandika D’Souza, PhD (Dallas SWE VP of Outreach), Zaineb Ahmad (Dallas SWE VP of Membership), Cherrie Fisher (Dallas SWE Executive VP), and Shelley Stracener (Dallas SWE Webmaster and Region C Secretary / Webmaster)

Dallas SWE brought home the Outreach Parent / Educator Event Award for the second year in a row for our signature outreach event, Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls! Dallas SWE Members also received several individual awards. Congratulations to our award winners!

  • Nandika D’Souza, PhD – Distinguished Engineering Educator Award
  • Kate Van Dellen – Distinguished New Engineer
  • Shelley Stracener – Distinguished New Engineer

Next year’s WE16 Conference will be held in Philadelphia, PA October 27-29, 2016. We hope you can join us next year: mark your calendars!

Read below for some reflections from our attendees to the WE15 Conference and enjoy our photo gallery!

Barbara Read, Dallas SWE President

I went to several sessions, including the SWE Membership and Town Hall Meetings, that gave me new insights into how SWE is structured and managed at a region, national, and international level. I volunteered as a room monitor in other sessions: this is a great way to get a hefty discount on registration fees and give back to SWE and the conference planning team! I also enjoyed celebrating with our members who received awards this year: Dallas SWE is an amazing section and I am so proud to be a part of it.

Cherrie Fisher, Executive Vice President

This was my first SWE Conference experience and I really enjoyed it! I went to many great professional development sessions. I especially appreciated being able to support Dallas SWE member Kate Van Dellen by attending her session entitled “Career Paths: 5 Years Out and Where am I Going?” My favorite part of the conference was the dancing and entertainers after Celebrate SWE on Saturday evening! It was a wonderful and inspiring conference.

Nandika D’Souza, Ph.D, VP of Outreach

My 2nd National SWE conference established that I must go to this conference EVERY YEAR to be functional in my work life. My first conference sharing a room with Dallas SWE super-giver Shelley Stracener made planning for the 2nd conference easier (for one thing I understood there was an award banquet AND a celebration banquet, each offering awards). I headed there knowing we were both getting a national award enabled through the nomination by Dallas SWE and meticulous assembly by Zaineb Ahmed. New this time was the enormous group of UNT-SWE students heading to Nashville, including one SWE Future Leader (SWEFL) for Region C, Haley Barnes.

Among workshops and talks I found insightful were those on “introverts and extroverts”, “mindfulness for stress reduction”, “developing a personal brand”, “using humor in the workplace”, plenaries on “how corporate America is making diversity a way of life”, “how does she do it”- stories of executives who had negotiated family and career management. The awards banquet was an opportunity for me to make a statement on diversity. I am passionate that SWE truly embrace globalization- both globally and as an immigrant in America. “Diversity by culture” is unfortunately considered to exclude Asian populations by every policy with Asians left out as being too successful to support. Yet my inbox and chance encounters reveal and increased need for retention in the workforce of the Asian born mum.

At the SWE awards I chose to raise awareness for immigrants producing and delivering in America. I wore an outfit that I purchased in India.  In receiving an award for engineering education that reflected teaching, research and service to professional societies I wanted to communicate that service can be a core part of work life. This SWE conference will remain an experience that I will never forget. I grew in appreciation for the value of the local sections of SWE and the wonderful sisterhood that comes from being in a room where one is a majority. I was overwhelmed with joy at seeing my University students hold their own in personality and professionalism. I returned home replenished.

Zaineb Ahmad, VP of Membership

It’s been eight years since the SWE conference was in Nashville, eight years since I lasted attended a SWE conference. As a college student, I was focused on finding internships and jobs back then; going back as a professional and as SWE section leader was a totally different experience. First, the conference is so much bigger now; SWE continues to grow every year and it shows at the conference. Just walking through the halls of the conference center makes you realize you’re in the company of intelligent, beautiful, and ambitious women engineers.

I attended several sessions, with topic ranging from implementing efficiency to leaders leading change to approaches to innovation to work/life balance and more. Some sessions aimed to enhance professional development and career planning, while others focused on technical talks or mentoring or planning a SWE career.

The “hallway/elevator chats” were among my favorite this year; randomly meeting someone in an elevator or after a session and generating conversations. I talked to women in industry about the rapidly changing face of technology. I talked to fellow SWE members and struggles their sections faced. I talked to collegiates about their goals and fears (I remember being there and I hope I helped ease some of their fears).  I also got to catch up with some fellow alumni from my collegiate SWE sections and ladies I had met at SWE conference many years ago!

One of the highlights of the event was seeing my fellow Dallas SWE members win some pretty prestigious, well-deserved awards. Furthermore, Dallas SWE won Outreach Parent/Educator Award for the second year in a row and Region C won the Communication Award!

As usual, the SWE conference provides so much to do, so many people to see. It’s three days of ongoing activity, but I came back recharged and motivated. I’m ready to take on challenges in my professional life, I’m inspired to be a better mentor and STEM advocate, and I’m generally more excited than ever to be a woman engineer and a part of SWE! I am looking forward to WE16 in Philadelphia!

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