Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers won five awards at the Women's Engineer conference in Chicago, and the Tech Team tied for first place. "All members of both Team Techs put in as much, if not more, times as a part-time job, and is considered an extracurricular activity with no unit correlation," biomedical engineering senior Danielle Cowgill said. -Courtesy Photo

Cal Poly Society of Women’s Engineers (SWE) brought home its eighth Gold Award as the nation’s top Outstanding Collegiate Section at the Annual Conference for Women Engineers on Oct. 15.

The annual Women’s Engineers Conference was held in Chicago from Oct. 13 to 15, and attendees had the opportunity to develop professional skills, network with other engineers and showcase their current projects.

“At the annual conference, different regions have meetings to help facilitate the sharing of best practices, award information and to get to know one another,” SWE president Morgan Miller said. “(Some of us) worked with girls from all around the Chicago area to teach them about engineering and different ways we use engineering in our everyday lives.”

Aside from learning, the different programs competed in various competitions, the top award is the Collegiate Section Gold Award, which is given to the university chapter with the most outstanding overall program.

Each chapter is judged through its community outreach program, activities created to provide leadership training and the professional opportunities offered for its members.

“SWE works really hard to make all that we do happen each year,” Miller said. “We focus on the SWE mission, to advance females in engineering and to increase the diversity of the engineering field. This has become a passion of mine ever since joining my freshman year.”

This is not the first time Miller has seen SWE recognized as the nation’s top program. The society has won the award a total of eight times since 2002. Cal Poly has won the Team Tech Competition eight times as well, including two first-place ties in 2009 and 2011.

Cal Poly SWE was easily recognized throughout the conference by their green shirts and outstanding achievements, Miller said. Recruiters and businesses are aware of the projects SWE creates and the innovation put into their work.

“It is amazing how (Cal Poly) is always one of the most outstanding performers at events like this,” Amy Hewes, director of publications and communications for the College of Engineering said. “It is quite an accomplishment receiving eight gold awards since 2002.”

This year SWE brought home a total of five awards, including Outstanding Collegiate Section, a first place tie for their two Team Tech teams, a second place in Strategic Communication and two Technical Poster Competition Awards.

The Teach Tech Competition is a year-long, multidisciplinary, industry-sponsored event. SWE entered two projects and tied for first place in the contest.

One of the Cal Poly SWE teams worked with Santa Maria-based Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench on a compressor wheel cooling system. Another team designed a prosthetic attachment to aid amputees when climbing stairs. This team worked with the Quality of Life Plus Foundation, a nonprofit group that furthers innovation to improve the quality of life for those injured in the line of duty.

Both teams worked on the respective projects for more than a year, starting from basic ideas and finishing with a finished project.

“All members of both Team Techs put in as much, if not more, time as a part-time job, and is considered an extracurricular activity with no unit correlation,” biomedical engineering senior Danielle Cowgill said. “Hopefully, they are all as happy as I am to help make the world a better place.”

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