The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Iowa State was recently awarded a grant through the Procter & Gamble Fund Higher Education Grant Program. The grant, in the amount of $10,000, will help the section fund its regular activities as well as a variety of new ideas.
The Procter & Gamble Fund Higher Education Grant Program aims to help better prepare college students for success. Each year a selection committee reviews grant applications and awards grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 based on project scope of each university student organization that applies. The specific intent of these grants is to sponsor organizations that promote diversity, innovation, creativity, and leadership; all things the ISU SWE chapter has consistently emphasized.
SWE is an organization for women in the engineering field, and aims to create a supportive environment in order to increase retention. The ISU section strives to get women in engineering involved early in their college career so that they are able to build strong connections among their peers. The section is primarily composed of women, however a few male engineers are also contributing members.
After learning about the Proctor & Gamble Fund Higher Education Grant Program through the ISU Foundation, SWE officers and advisors quickly got involved in the application process. Amy Carver, section advisor and graduate programs assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, assisted the section with the application process.
“The ISU Foundation brought the grant to our attention and we were able to provide the key components needed to complete it concerning the Society of Women Engineers activities,” Carver explains. “They were great in assisting us every step of the way and we were pleased with the outcome.”
In later November, the ISU section of SWE was notified that their hard work had paid off, as the section had been selected to receive a $10,000 grant through the education fund. The grant check, which will arrive early next semester, will give the section the opportunity to implement new ideas throughout the 2013 school year.
Kelsey Bruning, SWE President and senior in civil engineering, says section officers have big plans for the grant. “We plan to use the grant for a variety of things,” explains Bruning. “It will help us to fund members who will attend the annual SWE conference next fall, aid in creating a career fair planning guide, provide a scholarship to allow one freshman members to attend the annual conference, support the section in hosting a spring officer retreat to help with team building, pay for the cost of sending out a new student welcome packet to incoming students in engineering, and more.”
Section members are especially excited to mail welcome packet to incoming students containing information regarding education, SWE, and Iowa State. While SWE has created the packets for students in the past, the section has not had the funding to mail them.
“Last year we handed out the packets at orientation, which isn’t as effective because students are getting overwhelmed with packets of information at that time,” says Bruning.
Planning is also underway for a spring officer retreat, a necessary tool for growing member relationships and aiding in club communication. The section’s 32 officers will be participating in a high ropes course; something that Bruning feels will challenge members while also creating connections with the organization.
In addition to earning this substantial grant and launching new ideas, 20 section members also attended WE 12, the Annual Conference for Women Engineers Nov. 8 – 11 in Houston, Texas. There, the chapter was recognized as an outstanding collegiate section at the silver level, the second highest level of distinction.
The conference provided members with the chance to participate in valuable professional development sessions, network with professionals, and attend a career fair; all things they are excited to participate in again next fall with help from grant funding.
As a very eventful year comes to a close for the ISU SWE section, members are looking forward to the coming academic year and the opportunities to implement innovative ideas and further promote the success and retention of women in engineering.