Nuclear Engineering sophomore Sydney Copp first learned about the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) during Welcome Week of her freshman year. Immediately she was struck with a desire to be a part of its SWEeties mentorship program, where an incoming female engineering student is paired with an upperclassman. They meet up throughout the semester to complete professional development goals.
SWE is an international organization, and the UT chapter has 260 participating members, with 170+ participating in its SWEeties mentorship program. Its mission is to stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity. Its areas of activity include programs to offer support, networking, outreach, mentorship, connections, leadership opportunities, professional development, financial aid, and other helpful resources to navigate college and career preparation.
Last year Copp was paired with a mentor who helped her deal with the academic rigors of the discipline. That experience also solidified her desire to provide mentorship to others.
“I love how SWE has brought me closer to other women engineers, and it also gave me one of my closest friends—my mentor from last year,” she said.
The SWEeties program prepares students to mentor others through two training sessions per year—one in the fall and one in the spring. In it, students go over tips and tricks on how to be a good mentor and how to approach hypothetical questions or situations that mentees might come up with.
Even though mentors and mentees might not share a major, mentors are often able to help mentees with the foundational engineering courses taken by all engineering majors.
“SWEeties is really geared toward helping retain women in engineering and get them excited to be a part of it,” said Copp. “I will 100 percent continue to be a mentor throughout my college career. I have absolutely loved doing it so far, and I can’t imagine my time at UT without SWE or SWEeties.”
Additionally, mentors help mentees with anything ranging from preparing for interviews and resume writing to tips for attending the Engineering Expo and Evening with Industry to non-academic social time with parties and weekend hikes.
“I ended up changing my major halfway through the year, and she helped me through it and was actually one of the biggest reasons I decided to stay in engineering in the first place,” said Copp. “I’ve been assigned two amazing mentees this year, and I’m glad I’ve been able to help them through their own major changes in the engineering college.”
Copp is testament to the friendships gained through SWE’s SWEeties program and to the fact that forming friendships around the same major or same college can be a helpful way to manage stress and succeed academically.