The Society of Women Engineers, founded in 1950, is a not-for-profit educational and service organization.
SWE is the driving force that establishes engineering as a highly desirable career for women. SWE encourages youth to aspire to be engineers, empowers women to succeed in their careers and recognizes the life-changing contributions and achievements of women engineer leaders.
The Lehigh Valley Section of SWE was chartered in 1980 and has 50 members. The section supports women engineers in all disciplines by providing professional development, networking and social events throughout the year.
Women represent less than 15 percent of practicing engineers. SWE provides an environment for women engineers to discuss work, career advancement and making the engineering field more welcoming to women.
Regionally, SWE supports collegiate sections at many of the Lehigh Valley colleges and universities. These sections assist undergraduate engineers through social events and offer resume preparation/interview strategy sessions and opportunities to meet with engineers in local companies.
The Lehigh Valley Section annually provides scholarships to female high school seniors who intend to major in engineering in college. Since the program began in 2001, 117 scholarships, totaling more than $340,000 have been awarded.
The section receives numerous applications from qualified young women, resulting in a painstaking selection process, which is nonetheless very rewarding for those involved.
Scholarship money is provided by area businesses, while program administration is provided by SWE volunteers.
IN THE COMMUNITY
Section women volunteer to encourage young girls and boys to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math coursework in school.
They participate in regional programs such as MathCounts, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and the “Dream Big” educational initiative. Members judge at science fairs and attend STEM events at local schools.
Members also participate in the Holiday Hope Chest project sponsored by the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley.
December marked the 11th year that Lehigh Valley Section members gathered at a holiday party to wrap and fill shoe boxes with presents for pre-teen and teenage girls. Each year, 40 shoe boxes are filled with school items, jewelry and toiletries for local girls.
Note: This article was submitted by the Lehigh Valley Section of the Society of Women Engineers. For more information about the Lehigh Valley Section, visit lv.swe.org.