The Sierra Foothills Section of the Society of Women Engineers had their 20th annual kick-off meeting at El Torritos restaurant in Citrus Heights, California on Thursday, September 16. The group of accomplished ladies (and one gentleman) chatted over dinner about goals for the upcoming Fiscal Year. The new president of the section, Nkiruka Okeke (who likes to be called Kiki), opened the floor with an ice breaker. After a humorous game of summarizing who you are using two items from your purse, it was down to business.
The group reflected on last year’s accomplishments including, raising $3351 in a “Making Strides against Breast Cancer” walk and excellent attendance at their Engineering Awareness Program. This was followed by a discussion of ambitions for the coming year. Some of the things SWE SFS members have to look forward to this year, as listed by Kiki, include “having more educational, professional and developmental meetings; touring various industrial complexes and celebrating our 20th anniversary.”
Kristine Kuan, the section representative (and former president) then took the floor, highlighting some of the goals for this year which include, “increasing membership; reaching out to other clubs such as the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and hosting a 20th anniversary event”.
This year’s e-board consists of:
President: Nkiruka Okeke (Kiki)
Secretary: Erin Marquis
Treasurer: Aishwarya Bhat
Section Representative: Kristine Kuan
Scholarship Chair: Leyla Najafi
Fundraising Chair: Esen Hatcher
Co-Section Programming Chair: Jessica Gonzalez
Engineering Awareness Program (EAP) Co-Chairs: Christine Rivera & Abeeda Saeed
Engineering Awareness Program (EAP) Co-Chair:
Professional Development Chair: Freny Chennessery
Career Guidance Chair: Sirisha Pothana
Historian: Udochi Okeke
Webmistress: Holly Heffernan Krelle
Membership Chair: Allison Goodman
However, Kiki indicated that there are still open positions. They are looking for a Communications Chair, an Awards Committee chair and a Co-Section programming chair.
SWE will be hosting a bevy of networking events this year. One of which will be the SWE 4 Me monthly lunches*. “It is an opportunity to take lunch away from your desk and network (or commiserate) with fellow SWE members.” She then adds that anyone can participate. “You don’t have to be a member, an engineer or even a woman.”
A national SWE event that is coming soon is the National SWE Conference in Orlando, FL. Kiki and Kristine are going to give a presentation on the Imposter Syndrome.* SWE members were encouraged to talk to their companies about sponsoring them to go. “It’s a great opportunity for professional development and inspiration,” said Kiki. Detail can be found at www.we10.swe.org.
October 17th is the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk to support the effort to find a cure for breast cancer. SWE will have a big presence there in a joint effort with Sacramento Valley SWE and Sacramento State University student section. The walk is a 5k and will be followed by a brunch at a casual cafe. Kiki says, “There is no minimum amount you need to join us for the walk.” For information on joining the SWE team, please contact Jing Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another event SWE SFS holds regularly is their General Section Meeting. During this meeting they usually have a guest speaker who gives a talk on a topic that is relevant to professional women or women in a male dominated field like engineering. The next meeting will be held on October 27 from 6-8pm. The speaker will be Jill Stevenson. She is the Chief of Staff at Micron Technology. The tentative topic for her talk is “The Power of We vs. Me: Creating a Collaborative Work Environment.” Kiki let everyone know that they are open to ideas for future topics.
SWE SFS also has a yearly Engineering Awareness Program. It is an outreach event for local high school girls interested in engineering. “The goal for this event,” says Kiki, “is to expose to engineering and interest them in pursuing engineering in college, or at least taking more math and science classes.” The day consists of breakfast, icebreaker, two engineering labs, networking lunch with professionals, raffle, and a college student and intern panel discussion. According to Kiki, it SFS’s most successful and rewarding outreach event. This year it is being held on November 13th at Intel Corporation in Folsom from 8am to 3pm.
SWE SFS also reaches out to young girls through their Girl Scout Technology Day. This is similar to the Engineering Awareness program with it’s icebreakers and engineering labs, but it is not as intensive. This year it is going to be held in March 2011 from 8am to 3pm at Intel Corporation in Folsom. Kiki is still looking form volunteers for this event.
On December 9th, SWE SFS will be having their Winter Social to celebrate the succesful completion of the first half of the fiscal year. SWE will be sponsoring the event with food and beverages. They are accepting input as to what activities people would like for the day.
In March 2011, SWE SFS will be hosting a Networking Night. The evening will be focused on building professional networks by meeting fellow SWE members, fellow employees and fellow Sacramento professionals. The goal of the event and speaker is to practice and sharpen networking skills for career advancement. If you are interested in helping with this activity please contact Freny Chennessery at email@example.com.
SWE SFS will be hosting their collegiate and professional joint picnic on April 23, 2011. It will be an afternoon focused on building ties between professional and collegiate members. Kiki says, “It is an opportunity for professional members to become a mentor and offer their advice.”
Finally, SWE SFS will be hosting their 20th anniversary celebration, Awards and Scholarship banquet on May 20th 2011. It will be an evening event to celebrate the contributions of SWE leadership and section volunteers. They will also be awarding scholarships to local high school seniors.
After all of the announcements were all made the ladies got to know each other sharing where they work, what kind of engineer they are. Some talked about their kids and interested. The atmosphere was very relaxed and casual and as the night wore on ladies began to reluctantly leave the meeting to meet other obligations. The president of SWE SFS felt that the event was a success. “There were first time attendees and a lot of old faces and everyone had a good time.” She just hopes the rest of the year will be as successful.
For more information on SWE SFS, visit their website: http://www.swe-goldenwest.org/sfs/
*If you would like to host a SWE-4-Me lunch, please contact Jessica Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org
*The impostor syndrome, in which competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence is common among successful women. (Wikipedia)