University News

Women Engineering Students from WNE College of Engineering Attend 2024 WELocal Conference

Published: April 04, 2024 | Categories: Engineering, All News
WNE College of Engineering student cohort attending the WELocal conference in Baltimore.

A cohort of determined and ambitious women engineering students from Western New England University embarked on an enriching journey to Baltimore, MD, to participate in the 2024 WELocal Conference, organized by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Held from February 29 through March 3, the conference provided a dynamic platform for participants at all stages of their collegiate and professional journey to connect, learn, and grow.

WELocal conferences, celebrated globally, serve as a nexus for engineers and partners to engage in professional development sessions, connect with inspirational speakers, explore networking opportunities, and more. The College of Engineering women from WNE seized the occasion to its fullest, delving into the wealth of opportunities presented.

Helen Gillespy, a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering and serving as the SWE Student President, articulated the significance of the conference. "The SWE Conference provided students with the chance to build networks with people they otherwise would never have crossed paths with, while gaining insight into numerous aspects of being an Engineering Professional."

Similarly, Senior Electrical Engineering student Vy Do emphasized the value of the career fair, stating, "I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of companies such as Boeing, NASA, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, RTX, Lockheed Martin. I got to talk to the recruiters and learn about their companies' culture, products, and recruitment."

The journey to the WELocal Conference was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the College of Engineering community at WNE. Through meticulous fundraising initiatives and generous support from individual departments, the Dean of the College of Engineering, WNE's Student Senate, and contributions from within the SWE Network, all nineteen participating students were able to experience the four-day event without incurring personal expenses.

Ashley Figueroa, a junior studying Biomedical Engineering and serving as the SWE Vice President, expressed gratitude for the unwavering support received: "We are so fortunate to have such a strong section at WNE who worked hard to fundraise and coordinate. But we couldn't have done it without our college and Dean Cheraghi, as well as our faculty advisor, Dr. Kwaczala. We are so grateful for all the generous donors who helped get us there."

During the conference, the students fostered meaningful connections, attended informative sessions, and cultivated a close-knit community. They resided together in a large house on the outskirts of the city, embarking on a road trip in two large vans big enough for 15, fostering an immersive "learning beyond the classroom" experience they will carry into their professional careers.

Reflecting on the experience, Gillespy shared, "We had an experience that cannot be replicated in the classroom. As I approach graduation and a big transition in my life, I was able to gain insight from working professionals about academics, industry, and their personal life. Witnessing their achievements makes me believe that there are no limits to success for women in engineering."

For Amanda Howell, a junior studying Biomedical Engineering, the conference served as an eye-opening experience. "It was my first time going to something like this; it was so helpful seeing what people do in their fields and how they go from college to career and their transition."

Do added, "SWE has significantly expanded my networking opportunities. I got to meet and talk to numerous prominent women in engineering who inspire me to push my boundaries and strive for excellence in my career. Witnessing their achievements makes me believe that there are no limits to success for women in engineering."

The participation of WNE College of Engineering women in the 2024 WELocal Conference not only underscores their dedication to professional growth but also exemplifies the vibrant spirit of collaboration and support within the engineering community at Western New England University.