Ryan Chartrand

Winning first place once is hard enough, yet the Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has won first in the nation for its fifth straight year.

Each year a SWE National Conference award ceremony is held to give awards for the prior year’s accomplishments.

Cal Poly finished before the Colorado School of Mines and Cornell University for the best student chapter for large universities (those with more than 100 members). Cal Poly had 481 SWE members last year. About nationally around 300 universities and about 100 professionals in the engineering field belong to the National Society of Women Engineers.

“I’m very proud of all the hard work they’ve done and am happy to receive this recognition,” SWE director Helene Finger said.

Cal Poly SWE picked up five other awards under the outstanding large collegiate section. The awards were given for best membership program, collegiate membership upgrade, the Boeing Company multi-cultural program and best collegiate newsletter award for the region.

Cal Poly’s SWE Team Tech group took second place to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. for its work with Northrop Grumman Corp. on a jet engine inspection system design. Fifteen club members attended the convention held in Kansas City, Mo. in October. Eight were sponsored by College of Engineering Dean Mohammad Noori and the rest were supported by engineering department chairs.

Last year’s theme was “sustaining the world through engineering, education and opportunity.” The club organized 200 events throughout the year.

This year’s theme, said club president Lisa Dakis, is “inspiring inclusiveness,” meaning Cal Poly SWE wants to work with students and clubs to plan events. Most clubs organize their own events, but by working together it promotes unity and teamwork among the different clubs.

Cal Poly SWE and six other clubs organized “building an engineer day” that took place Oct. 28.

Students from sixth through eighth-grade participated in eight engineering labs and other engineering projects. Around 130 students, 60 adults and 40 volunteers attended. This was the second year of the event and many students returned, mechanical engineering student Dakis said.

“We received so many positive comments from students and parents and they want to come back next year.”

Dakis said about one-quarter to half of the women from the engineering departments belong to SWE.

Both of Dakis’ parents are electrical engineers. Dakis’ mother was a member of SWE in college and encouraged her to join.

“I’ll do your lame club,” Dakis told her mother.

A member since 2003, it has “turned out to be really cool;” she has met many fellow female engineers since most of her classes are male dominated.

Engineering today tends to still be a male dominated field, but through SWE, Dakis has made many professional connections. She even obtained an internship because of the SWE network.

“I constantly get e-mails from job recuiters,” Dakis said.

Anyone is eligible to join the club and there are students from all departments, Finger said.

Dakis said there are many helpful aspects to SWE, like how to be more organized with school work, volunteer opportunities and how to become a more confident public speaker.

The next big event for the Cal Poly SWE is a dinner inviting 40 engineering companies Feb. 9 for the Evening with Industry banquet.

Finger said the dinner gives students the opportunity to meet with industry people and professionals.

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