Engineering students attend the 2021 SWE conference

SWE engineering conference
(L to R) Liz Martin ’22, Rose Murphy ’22, Iris Williams ’22, Elisa Garcia ’22, Prof. Bryan Kuhr, Zelda Vasquez Ramirez ’22, Sophia Keniston ’22 and Sarah Solis ’22.

Last week, seven engineering students and Professor Bryan Kuhr attended the Society of Women Engineers 2021 conference, “Aspire to Inspire,” at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. It is the world’s largest conference for women engineers and technologists. This year, our engineering team participated in the “Invent It. Build It.” expo, which is geared towards K-12 students. At our booth, Explore Engineering was front and center as our engineers promoted the program and gave attendees hands-on circuit projects to take home.

Professor Kuhr tells us about the experience:

What was your favorite part of the conference?

“My favorite part was watching the students put themselves out there and start to navigate the broader engineering landscape. We’ve been pretty isolated for the last year and half, so to see their hard work start to pay off in career prospects was super gratifying. We met lots of recruiters and other engineer professionals.”

What did you learn?

“It’s a hot job market! You could hear it in lots of ways. There was much more focus on retaining talent and improving working conditions than I’ve seen at similar events. Also, there’s a shift toward engineers doing more management and customer service, so soft skills are getting more important.”

Engineering expo

What was it like having a booth for the K-12 outreach program?

“Just awesome. The exhibitors all had hands-on activities. Ours was a circuits project they could take home. Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific had medical devices you could hold and try out. Motorola had a demo of their new smart 911 system set up. There was nothing like that at the regular career fair. We always had lots of people at our booth, but we made time to check out other demos and exhibitors. It was a pretty good recruiting tactic, too, because we got a lot of material out, including circuitry kits.”

How has the experience impacted your thoughts about the future of engineering?

“I think there are many real opportunities for industry collaboration out there.  I hope we can bring some to Sweet Briar.”