By Kalie Knecht, SWE President
The Division of Student Life named UT’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) as the Best Large Organization of the Year. This award recognizes a large student organization that has fulfilled its mission, involved the campus in its purpose, plays a leadership role on campus, is involved in the campus community, is open-minded and diverse, has the ability to accept and overcome challenges, and sustains itself in creative ways. This honors SWE for developing and implementing improvements in the quality of student life.
This is the latest in the series of awards SWE has earned this year. At the annual SWE conference, UTK SWE brought home the Gold SWE Collegiate Mission Award for embodying SWE core values and demonstrating continuous improvement and growth toward strategic goals. They also brought home the SWE Best Practice in Mentoring for excellent practice in our SWEeties mentoring program.
At the first annual Council of Partners Banquet in March, SWE received the Program of the Year Award in recognition of their SWEeties mentoring program and the Community Outreach award for their Tomorrow’s Engineers Today outreach event.
UTK SWE has 262 members and hosts a variety of professional, social, outreach, and academic events and programs throughout the year for engineering students and the Knoxville community.
SWEeties Mentoring: This program strives to improve the retention of female engineering students by supporting students through continuous mentoring, networking, and professional development training. There are over 140 individual participants in SWEeties this year. Among the 76 freshmen involved in the program, there was a 96% retention rate within engineering from fall to spring semesters. SWEeties participants noted that the program helps freshmen find resources on campus and increases responsibility and confidence of mentors.
Tomorrow’s Engineers Today: This program gives middle and high school aged girls the opportunity to see engineering labs on campus, do engineering projects, and learn more about what each kind of engineering does. This year SWE brought in 53 girls for TET, and 90% of participants said they learned something new about engineering during the day’s events. Over 70% of participants said that they were more interested in becoming an engineering after attending TET.