WE16 is the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology, with more than 9,000 women at all stages of their engineering careers.
Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers Collegiate Section has historically been very active at the National Conference. At this year’s WE16, it was no different. The students who traveled with us were:
- Leah Bectel, Environmental Engineering
- Mackenzie Brunet, SWE Section First-Year Student Travel Grant Recipient, Mechanical Engineering
- Romana Carden, Environmental Engineering
- Erica Coscarelli, Environmental Engineering
- Hannah Cunningham, Biomedical Engineering
- Jocelyne Denhof, Mechanical Engineering
- Jessica Geroux, Mechanical Engineering
- Carly Gloudemans, Environmental Engineering
- Akhila Reddy Gorantla, Materials Engineering
- Madison Mroczynski, Civil Engineering
- Stephanie Peterson, Environmental Engineering
- Laura Schimmel, Mechanical Engineering
- Lauren Sandy, Biomedical Engineering
- Karsyn Van Laanen, Chemical Engineering
- Lily Williams, Mechanical Engineering
- Baileigh Zimmerman, Chemical Engineering
Advisers Gretchen Hein and Beth Hoy also travelled with the group. The section received the Silver Collegiate Section Award, which is based on the section’s involvement in SWE.
Team Tech Competition
Michigan Tech and Caterpillar Inc. were both rookies in the SWE Team Tech competition, a design contest sponsored by Boeing which was launched in 1992 as a way to emphasize the key role of teamwork and industry interface in the engineering educational process. An innovative approach to an interesting engineering problem proved to be a successful partnership when the team won first place at WE16, the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology. The winning project is entitled “Wheel Tractor Scraper Bowl Optimization System.”
Team Tech calls for collegiate teams of 4-12 members from at least three different engineering disciplines to work with an industry partner in order to solve an engineering design problem. The team submitted progress reports and design documents to Boeing, ultimately qualifying them to present at the SWE annual conference held on Friday, October 28, 2016, in Philadelphia.
Michigan Tech’s team partnered with Caterpillar Inc. to create a solution to the issue of inefficient filling on Caterpillar’s wheel tractor scraper (WTS) machines. To solve this engineering challenge, the team conceived, designed, prototyped, and tested an ultrasonic sensing system that can accurately determine the height of dirt within the WTS bowl. The team also conceived a method to relay that information to the operator, along with a video feed looking into the bowl. Perhaps most importantly, the team designed and developed a scale-model test rig that provides proof of concept of the system without costly on-machine testing.
During the competition, 11 teams presented their design ideas to the judges, and results were announced at Celebrate SWE, a dinner event on Saturday night of the conference. Third place was awarded to University of Wisconsin- Madison working with Xymox Technologies, Inc., and second place was awarded to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo working with St. Jude Medical.
The Team Tech team was composed of members from two different Enterprise programs within the Pavlis Honors College—Blue Marble Security and Consumer Product Manufacturing. The advisors were Dr. Archer (Electrical & Computer Engineering) & Dr. Rogers (Chemical Engineering). The student team members submitting the final proposal were: Team leader Ester Buhl, Electrical Engineering, Brianne Anderson, Mechanical Engineering, Derek Chopp, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Sandra Cvetanovic, Electrical Engineering, Alexis Dani, Computer Engineering, Jennifer Dzurka, Mechanical Engineering, Anna Marchesano, Chemical Engineering, and Jonathan Quinn, Mechanical Engineering.
Buhl, Marchesano, and Chopp represented the team at the competition. Caterpillar engineers and Michigan Tech alums Brent Woodard (’11 BSME) and Britta Jost (’02 BS Mathematics, ’04 MSME) mentored the team and provided technical advice.
Collegiate Leadership Institute
Three students, Stephanie Peterson, Romana Carden, and Jocelyne Denhof participated in the Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI). The program’s overall goal is to prepare women engineering and technology students to gain employment within the engineering sector and become leaders in their field. CLI attendees are provided resources to jumpstart their professional development, broaden their networking opportunities, and help facilitate their eventual transition into the workforce. Stephanie found that:
I really liked the variety of topics that were covered which ranged from networking to managing money. As somebody who is looking for a full-time job, I feel like I was able to obtain a lot of great advice that will help me to both land a job and build meaningful professional relationships.
Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering
Renee Oats, PhD student in Civil Engineering, and Tayloria Adams, PhD in Chemical Engineering, Michigan Tech, 2014, participated in Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering (ALWE) Program. This NSF funded program is designed to provide best practices to advance in academia while creating opportunities and mechanisms to network across institutions.
Graduate Student Poster Competition
Renee Oats and Patricia Thompson, Michigan Tech Civil Engineering alumna, were selected to participate in the WE16 annual graduate student poster competition. The poster competition was organized by Kaitlyn Bunker, PhD Electrical Engineering 2014 from Michigan Tech.
Gretchen Hein, Engineering Fundamentals, presented on two topics: “eCYBERMISSION: A Great Way to Explore Science and Engineering”, and “How do Faculty Ensure Student Competency at Course Completion?”. The first presentation was done with Erin Lester, eCYBERMISSION Volunteer Manager, and Siona Beaudoin, Lake Linden-Hubbell eighth grader and eCYBERMISSION participant. The second presentation was on work completed in the first-year engineering program with Mary Fraley, Amber Kemppainen, and AJ Hamlin. Gretchen is currently the Women in Academia Chair for SWE.
Invent It. Build It.
Invent It. Build It. is an annual SWE conference activity for middle and high school girls. The purpose is to introduce girls and their families to the field of engineering. This year a record number of more than 1200 girls participated, including Siona. Hannah Cunningham volunteered at the day-long event.
Outstanding Collegiate Member
Tech alumna Liz Dreyer (BS Electrical Engineering, Michigan Tech, 2012) was awarded the Outstanding Collegiate Member award by the Society of Women Engineers on Saturday, October 29. Each year, the Society honors ten collegiate members who have made an outstanding contribution to SWE, the engineering community, and their campus. Dreyer was cited specifically
For leadership and innovative efforts to grow SWE’s presence on campus, particularly among graduate students, and for advancing the overall interests of women in STEM fields across the globe.
This acknowledges Dreyer’s role as Graduate Member Coordinator for SWE as well as her outreach efforts for women engineers in Liberia. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.