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Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Celebrating Women in Engineering at the SWE Power Conference

    By Alyamama Abdo

    As a current member of the UM Dearborn chapter of Society of Women Engineers , I had the chance to assist in organizing and participating in the 5th Annual POWER Conference on Friday, February 10 2023. The conference brought together women engineers from a variety of backgrounds both as students and alumni to share their experiences and to network. As a current first year studying software engineering, I was beyond excited to be able to have this opportunity to hear more about the field of computer science from the women I admired. When it came to organizing and making the conference a success,the SWE executive board and volunteers did a great job by working hard over the course of months to plan and provide this opportunity. As a volunteer, I joined in the last month to help bring their ideas to completion. The conference highlighted the importance of gender diversity in engineering and the gradual increase in the number of women graduates in STEM. 

    One of the highlights of the conference was the alumni panel, consisting of diverse, successful women engineers who shared their experiences of working in the industry. The panelists offered valuable insights into both the challenges and opportunities that women face in the engineering field. They provided heartwarming advice on the importance of confidence, mentorship, networking, and advocacy in promoting women in engineering fields. The panel was incredibly motivational for me as a first year since I was able to hear from women that have gone through the same process and  facing all the struggles and challenges and becoming successful. It inspired me to work harder and become involved right away as these efforts will be worth it in the future. The panel also emphasized the growth of women in engineering over the years. Christine Boumansour, a 1989 graduate, experience as a woman in engineering was very different from Reem Omer, a 2022 graduate. The field of engineering has still a long way to go but it’s amazing to see how far we have come. 

    In addition to the valuable insights from the alumni panel, the conference also emphasized the significance of student and faculty mentorship. The importance of seeking guidance and mentorship from experienced individuals within the academic and professional realms was highlighted as a crucial aspect of personal and career development. It was evident that mentorship plays a pivotal role in fostering the success of aspiring women engineers, providing them with the guidance and support needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The partnership between students and faculty to organize this conference exemplifies the collaborative and inclusive spirit of the university community. Together, they have harnessed their combined knowledge, expertise, and resources to create a platform that celebrates the achievements of women in engineering, encourages meaningful dialogue, and inspires the next generation of engineers. This dynamic collaboration underscores the university’s commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields while fostering a supportive and empowering environment for all students.

    Another highlight of the conference was the amazing variety of workshops hosted by amazing companies such as Ford, Toyota, Harman, Magna, and Aident. One of my favorite workshops I attended was LinkedIn with Harman, led by Nicole Taylor and Sarah Marchak. The workshop taught me how to best optimize my profile to make it stand out to recruiters and potential employers. The workshop covered key topics such as crafting a compelling headline, an effective summary, and using keywords to improve searchability. Nicole and Sarah also shared key takeaways on how to build a professional network on LinkedIn and leverage the platform for jobs searching and career development.

    As a current member of the SWE, I am always thankful for the opportunity to be surrounded by such an amazing group of women every day. The 5th Annual Power Conference was a great success and provided its 150+ attendees valuable insights into the world of numerous fields of engineering for women. The workshops and panel offered opportunities to learn, network, and grow both personally and professionally. I am excited to be a part of the 6th Annual Conference next year.