MIT Society of Women Engineers’ journey into virtual connection | MIT News

When the student overall body was sent household last March in the encounter of the Covid-19 pandemic, the MIT Culture of Girls Engineers (SWE), a single of the biggest university student organizations on campus with in excess of 400 undergraduate and graduate college student customers, confronted its greatest obstacle but — transitioning just about 70 in-particular person programming functions to an completely digital working experience.

The team labored tirelessly throughout the summer months — when most MIT golf equipment and corporations ended up not in session — on methods to adapt and operate all of their customary SWE functions with no jeopardizing the high-quality of the business or scrapping plans wholly. Members of the team found revolutionary methods to change and adapt in buy to retain every thing in a virtual environment.

“From the executive team, all the way to our standard users, everybody experienced a good outlook on our scenario and was prepared to place in the operate.” says Koumani Ntowe, a senior in biological engineering and MIT SWE co-president. “It just displays the influence that this firm has experienced and how substantially our users are committed to guaranteeing it proceeds to perform and operate in a virtual semester.”

MIT SWE is comprised of 5 departments that incorporate campus relations, career development, membership, outreach, and technology. Given that 1979, SWE’s mission and ambitions have been to encourage younger generations about engineering, really encourage the idea of variety in engineering, and to identify and advocate for the desires of gals engineers at MIT and the broader community. “We are an group that is truly crafted on producing connections with people, so it was really hard for us to find out how to build these identical connections in a far more virtual placing,” suggests Ntowe.

In addition to promoting diversity between women of all ages engineers, SWE seeks to introduce learners of all ages, from grade university to large school, to STEM fields. Although the pandemic and changeover to digital programming has immensely impacted its outreach, it has also supplied SWE additional alternatives to offer bigger accessibility to their programs to people further than the Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, parts.

To welcome new to start with-calendar year scholar customers this tutorial yr, Ntowe and Jeana Choi, a senior in electrical engineering and laptop science and MIT SWE’s co-president, worked with each other to hand pack around 100 care packages loaded with miscellaneous MIT swag to deliver individuals throughout the United States. “We desired to make a welcoming and open environment for first-year pupils who have hardly ever stepped foot on MIT’s campus or had a prospect to show up at Campus Preview Weekend to fulfill any of the upperclassmen in human being,” states Choi.

Throughout the initial few weeks of the fall semester, SWE also collaborated with other university student campus organizations like Black Women’s Alliance, Countrywide Society of Black Engineers, Mujeres Latinas, and Society of Hispanic Expert Engineers, to host a series of pleasurable and interactive events, panels, and workshops to have interaction 1st-12 months college students. A preferred and effectively-attended event just about every yr is SWE’s resume workshop, wherever usually initial-12 months learners get benefit of one particular of their to start with career development possibilities.

Yet another major function this calendar year was SWE’s 41st Anniversary Celebration, where by associates experienced an possibility to meet up with and community with businesses and nonprofit organizations. With the difficult perform from SWE’s career development office, there were being more than 300 university student attendees, 30 organizations, and a unique visual appearance by MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart and MIT SWE’s school advisor Professor Sangeeta Bhatia. “The event was so effectively-operate, and it was the finest digital job truthful I have attended where by I was able to chat and hook up with persons from different businesses and corporations,” says Elissa Ito, a sophomore in mechanical engineering and SWE member.

A new outreach enterprise the team has tackled this semester has included engineering action kits for elementary and center faculty pupils. The strategy is to design and generate pre-manufactured activity kits for pupils from grades 3 by means of 8 to have enjoyable, do-it-at-property activities all through a time when it could be hard to maintain up with faculty. The original program was to make 400 kits, but the concept attained reputation on social media and the team received over 35,000 specific signups. Now, MIT SWE is functioning on funding and logistics to fulfill the demands for these kits to send out to as numerous pupils as they can. The goal of these action kits is to get extra youthful individuals much more interested in STEM and engineering.

A key precedence of SWE is to elevate recognition for females in STEM in the long term by producing a supportive group at MIT. More than the summer time, MIT SWE performed a significant-scale survey to the undergraduate group to find out about peoples’ perceptions of SWE and strategies on how to be far more inclusive no matter of an individual’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.

“There are so many folks with all these new innovative tips, and staying equipped to converse with them on their visions for the long term definitely puts anything into perspective of how inspired all people is,” says Choi. “We all value and like the community and want to make SWE a extra welcoming position.”