Samiha Singh (EnvEngr’23) was met with a decision during her first year at CU Boulder that changed the trajectory of her undergraduate career. It was between completing physics homework or applying to serve on the leadership board of CU Boulder’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter.
Singh landed a board position after submitting her application during a night shift as a resident assistant. Last year, she led the organization during her last year at CU Boulder and reflected on the impact of SWE on her journey. Needless to say, waiting on finishing that physics assignment paid off in the long run.
“I had no idea the connections and opportunities Society of Women Engineers would bring to me. I was lucky to get mentorship through so many people especially from the professional Rocky Mountain Section of SWE,” said Singh.
SWE focuses on “building an inclusive community of strong female engineers and other minorities, while remaining open to all who support these groups in STEM”. Their CU Boulder student chapter is one of nine affinity-based student societies supported by the BOLD Center within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Last year, the college provided a scholarship to 229 incoming first-year students who committed to joining SWE, increasing the group’s membership by about 50% from the year prior. Singh led some structural changes as membership increased by adding an outreach director to provide more opportunities for K-12 students, as well as a director of community engagement to maintain a close-knit community with members.
“SWE has hundreds of members, so I really wanted to create a more intentional space for meaningful connections to happen,” Singh said. “We hold ‘meet your major’ events, so you can meet other students within your major and this past spring semester, we actually had women faculty come and join us as well.”
Singh also got to attend national conferences in Houston and Seattle along with other members, which inspired her as a women leader in STEM.
“It’s a really cool opportunity if you attend. People were being offered interviews and jobs on the spot. I met women giving talks on topics you typically wouldn’t get in the classroom like ‘what does it mean to be a minority in engineering’, ‘how do you advocate for yourself’,” she said. “Seeing women who are successful in their careers and hearing their advice has helped myself and others gain more confidence and carry that confidence into other aspects of our lives.”
As incoming SWE president, Kyra Anderson (MechEngr’23) hopes to build on the growth and success of the society while bringing new ideas to the table.
“I’m getting committees started to get more incoming students involved earlier on and more mentorship opportunities for us. I’m really excited. There's not a lot of places where there’s all women engineers to engage with, so SWE is a great space for us,” said Anderson.
Along with their leadership board, she organized about 60 events last year and will bring her experiences leading those social, K-12 outreach and professional development events to the forefront even more.
“My junior year, I was director of Girl Scout outreach. We got to do fun activities with Girl Scout troops and taught them about STEM. We built little paper wind turbines with them and we had fun doing that.” And relevant for Anderson, she hopes to work in renewable or wind energy after she completes the mechanical engineering graduate program at CU Boulder.
The national conference inspired the society to bring ideas back to SWE at CU. Professionals from the Rocky Mountain Section gave conference-style talks about being a woman in engineering and imposter syndrome, so members could gain wisdom for those not able to travel. They hope to continue this programming into this coming year.
Going into this fall semester, “I hope to continue making SWE a welcoming community,” said Anderson, “and make sure everyone feels like they have a place where they belong.”
Top photo: SWE hosts a networking event with professional engineers. Middle photo: Members at the national conference in Houston. Bottom photo: End of the year banquet with graduating SWE members.