PepsiCo/SWE Engineering Challenge

The second annual PepsiCo/SWE Engineering Challenge has been kicked off! Teams of up to four undergraduate students are eligible to participate. This challenge for this year is related to improving the performance of PepsiCo’s beverage dispensing equipment.

The selected top three teams will be funded to attend WE16 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There, they will have the chance to present their team’s solution. Additionally, the top three teams will receive prizes of $100-$500 for each member. Submissions for this challenge are due on August 5, 2016. For more details and complete rules, visit this website.

SWE Connecticut Science Demonstrations at the Stamford STEMFest

On Saturday, May 14, 2016 volunteers from SWE CT demonstrated engineering principles to over 100 families in Stamford, CT.   The Stamford Public School system hosted their 3rd Annual Stamford STEMFest.  This was the second year that SWE CT participated.  Last year we demonstrated how to make a lemon battery, measure its voltage and compare it to a AA battery.  This year we expanded our electricity demonstrations with 3 demonstration modules, provided hands on circuit building kits, educated families on the contributions of women to science, and promoted SWE and SWENext.


SWE CT stepped up to the plate taking over two demonstration tables and bringing in 6 women from a variety of engineering disciplines.  We again used a lemon battery to teach families about electricity, how to use a multi-meter, how to compare the voltage in a lemon to a household battery, and how to connect lemons in a series to increase the voltage.  We discussed how many lemons were needed to power an LED (3) or replace a car battery (over 6 million).


We then used paper circuits to demonstrate how graphite conducts electricity.  We applied our newfound knowledge about multi-meters to measure the voltage in a circuit drawn on paper using a graphite pencil.  We could even draw in a switch.  Children were able to fold the paper over creating an on/off switch to close the circuit.  They learned how easy it was to transform a   “doodle” into a circuit by connecting a battery and other elements such as an LED.  Children were able to see how a battery, which they had just created with the lemon, could be used to create a circuit.  As they held down the folded paper they were aware that underneath their finger electricity was travelling along the graphite path and that when they released the paper the voltage measured zero.  They now had a concept of the voltage of the rectangular 9 volt battery through the graphite compared to the AA battery and the lemon.


Circuits made of squishy dough, colored LEDs, and batteries were set up to demonstrate the conductivity of yet another material they were familiar with.   In our first two demonstrations the children saw series circuits. Some dough circuits were set up as parallel circuits and some as series circuits.  We tested what happens when an LED was removed from a parallel circuit versus a series circuit.   Cardboard dividers were inserted between dough balls to direct electricity to travel through the LEDs. When the dough balls were reshaped so they touched around the sides of the cardboard we saw the LED light go out as the electricity sought the path of least resistance and avoided going through the LED.  To provide extended learning, we discussed with children how an Arduino (microcontroller) could be connected to squishy dough via a wire jumper from the Arduino pin so that the LED in the dough could light up through a Sketch for the Arduino.


After learning about electricity, ions, chemical reactions creating electrical energy, multi-meters, and parallel and series circuits the children were eager to create their own circuits.  SWE CT provided Snap Circuit boards and electrical elements and let the children build and test their own circuits providing guidance and encouragement as needed.


A pamphlet was handed out to each family.  The pamphlets included detailed instructions on how to reproduce the lemon battery demonstration.  There was an explanation of the science behind what they saw happening.  Web addresses for YouTube videos and reference sites for the paper circuits and squishy dough circuits were provided for extended learning activities. Our pamphlet contained a panel educating families on the contributions that women have made to science.  We talked to families about SWE and the SWENext program.  Flyers were handed out with the web address to sign up for the SWENext program.

The materials for this program were put on our section’s Google drive so that the program as a whole or components of the program can be used for future outreach programs.  This package included:  Volunteer training instructions with video and website references, Snap Circuit diagrams, Graphite-Paper circuit PowerPoint diagrams to color with graphite pencils, the Lemon Battery and Other Circuits pamphlet, and demonstration related slides that can be put on a table or used to create a tri-fold.

Through this outreach SWE CT was able to reach over 100 families many of whom brought several children to our table.  We were able to provide parents with a pamphlet to reproduce the demonstrations at home, explain the science involved, and give online resources for extended learning.  This program also allowed us to bring 6 women engineers (civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical) into the community as role models for young people interested in STEM.  We promoted the Society of Women Engineers demonstrating its value to the community and encouraged parents to sign up for SWENext.  This was our fourth K-12 outreach.  SWE CT members participated in Girls & STEM Expos in Waterbury and New Haven to educate and promote engineering to over 100 high school girls and we conducted a “Build a Roller Coaster” event for elementary and middle school students earlier in the year which reached 31 students.

Region F Leadership Summit at Tufts this Fall

The Region F Leadership Summit will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at Tufts University. Collegiate members are invited to attend to partake in leadership development workshops, network with other sections, and share best practices.
Sign up now to be notified when registration is live!
If you are interested in presenting at the summit, applications are due by Saturday, July 16. More information about presenting and sponsorship can also be found at the link above.

Internship Opportunity: Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub

The NSF sponsored Northeast Big Data Hub is interested in spreading the word about two upcoming programs to SWE members! These programs “Young Innovators Internship Program” and “Knowledge Exchange – Lecture Series and Visiting Scholar Exchange Program”  are open for applications from engineering and science students, and host organizations.  The applications for these programs are due on May 1.

The Young Innovators Internship Program provides funding for students to work with small businesses, NGOs, and local government on solving data science related problems. Students in this program will be appointed as fellows at Columbia University. They would like potential interns to submit with potential host organizations, but would accept intern-only or host-only submissions, though the highest odds for funding would be for combined intern/host proposals.

The Knowledge Exchange program involves either a lecture series or an exchange program. These programs are open to recent graduates and requires a one page proposal as an application.
Further details for the internships and exchange programs are available at this website.

Registration Grants for WE16

Applications are now open for WE16 registration grants! WE16 will take place in Philadelphia, PA from October 27th to 29th, 2016. These grants award applicants 50% of conference registration, a stipend from $100 to $150, and one complimentary ticket to the WE16 Keynote Breakfast. Collegiates and professionals are both welcome to apply. Priority is given to unemployed professional members and collegiate members without funding through their section or school. The deadline to apply is June 15, 2016. More information is listed here and the application is located here.

Connecticut Section Hosts “Build Your Own Roller Coaster” Event


SWE Connecticut hosted an outreach event called “ Build Your Own Roller Coaster” in New Milford, Connecticut on February 6.  Our goal was to introduce girls to engineering and give them a better understanding of how an engineer performs her work.  The event was open to girls and boys aged 10-15 years old.  We collaborated on this event with Robotics and Beyond, a local company offering STEM programs/camps to students.

The Build Your Own Roller Coaster activity:

  • was a relatable and fun concept that worked as a group project
  • easily demonstrated engineering work methods and the importance of collaboration
  • allowed us to expand on engineering concepts to meet a student’s curiosity
  • had good breadth of design creativity with loops, drops, and turns
  • had easily obtainable materials
  • was easily created, tested and redesigned

The event was promoted in New Milford at family venues, school systems, and in town papers. We also promoted the event on our website, emails to our membership,  Twitter, and the national SWENext calendar.  We designed a registration form on our website including fields required for SWENext registration so that we could cross sell SWENext at the event.  Volunteers were solicited from our membership to plan, develop, and execute the program.  Collegiate members from SWE New Haven came to the event to mentor students on the project, help with operations, and talk to parents and students about engineering.

The day began with a slide presentation.  The students learned about SWE and its mission.  Pictures of breathtaking roller coasters from amusement parks transitioned into simpler schematic drawings.  The drawings showed a roller coaster car at the highest point of the roller coaster full of potential energy and then what happens to its energy along the way.  Eliciting responses from the students we talked about potential energy, kinetic energy, gravity, friction, resistance and where the highest point of the roller coaster needs to be.  Finally the students learned how engineers share their talents and collaborate with others to design a roller coaster, build a prototype, test the prototype, evaluate results, problem solve, and redesign/retest.


Students were divided into groups with diversity by age/grade.  Each group was given white boards and markers for designing, foam pipe insulation (tracks), toothpicks and pipe cleaners  (connectors),  assorted wood pieces, sticks and card board (support structures), marbles (cars), colored paper and masking tape. Tables and chairs around which groups huddled to design their roller coaster on their white boards turned into support structures with tracks taped on them as the teams executed their plans. Students who had just met pooled their ideas and their talents to create roller coasters with multi-loops, sideways turns, jumps, tunnels and adornments to give their structure an extreme vibe or exciting colors.



After students built their structures each group demonstrated their roller coaster for the other attendees and talked about their work.  Parents were invited to come back before pickup to view the roller coasters and talk with the students about their design.


SWE CT Professional and SWE New Haven Collegiate members were available to aid the student groups in the project, talk to the students and parents about engineering, and provide information about/cross-sell SWENext.

Following are some of the quotes from tomorrow’s engineering women who built roller coasters at the SWE event.  Many of these girls are now signed up for SWENext:

“I really enjoyed working as a group and solving the problems that we ran into”.

“I learned about the science involved in roller coasters.  I also learned that being an engineer is really fun!”

“I learned that it is important to problem solve.”

“I learned to be cooperative and open-minded with other people.  If you listen, you’ll get great ideas!”

“I learned about structure, gravity, and how to build a roller coaster.”

“I learned that the heavier the object was the more likely that it can stay upside down.“

Our event was highly successful and we are grateful for the Region F grant that funded this event.

  • We were able to reach 31 attendees and their parents.
  • About 65% of the attendees were girls.
  • We signed up 21 students for SWENext.
  • Students who attended came from 8 area towns



Nominations Due February 20 for the Region Collegiate Team

Nominations for the Region F collegiate team for FY17 are due this Saturday, February 20! If you are a collegiate SWE member, consider applying for this great opportunity! Being a part of the Region Collegiate Team (RCT) is a great experience that will get you more involved with SWE on a regional level and develop your leadership and communication skills. Any SWE members who will continue to be a collegiate member in FY17 are eligible to apply for this experience. If you are a graduating senior, please do encourage the younger members of your section to get involved and apply for a position on the Region Collegiate Team! Below is more information about these positions which was posted previously.


The RCT is comprised of four collegiate SWE members in Region F. There are two Region Collegiate Representatives (RCRs) who work with the presidents of SWE collegiate sections in Region F throughout the year to gather reports and help sections maintain good standing. They also each have a vote on the Region Council, in order to represent the needs of collegiates. The Region Collegiate Communications Editor (RCCE) runs the Region F blog and assists with other Region social media. The RCCE is also the alternate voting representative, in case of the absence of an RCR. The Region Collegiate Senator (RCS) is a member of the SWE Senate, which develops SWE strategic goals and initiatives. The RCS is a voting member of the Senate. Additionally, the Region Lieutenant Governor is a professional SWE member who works with the RCT throughout the year to facilitate meetings and provide guidance.

To apply, send a photo and brief biography and candidate statement to Erika Gorman( Applications are due by February 20, 2016. An overview of the positions can be viewed here. Visit the Region F website to learn more about the responsibilities and details.

If you are interested in applying, please reach out to the members of the current collegiate team to ask any questions you may have or learn more about the positions. We would all be more than happy to help!

RCRs: Kirthana Bhat ( and Jenna Jacobs (

RCCE: Donna Creighton (

RCS: Carolyn Chlebek (

Lt. Governor: Anne Roberts (