Engineering a better UMBC
Students staff a table at Engineers week 2017. A variety of events and activities are regularly held for Engineers Week each year. Photo by Paul Oh. The Retriever Photo archives.

Engineering a better UMBC

The theme of this annual nationwide Engineers Week was “Inspiring Wonder.” Various engineering communities coordinated events around campus, including the Society of Women Engineers which hosted Let’s Get Techy.

Senior mechanical engineering major Shelbi Tippett and junior chemical engineering major Heather Rosario are respectively the president and vice president of the Society for Women Engineers. Tippett, who joined the Society during her freshman year, explained that Let’s Get Techy is an initiative to engage youth in engineering projects.

As members of the Society of Women Engineers, Tippett and Rosario have experience in working with younger students. “Most of what we do is reaching out to kids,” Tippett says.

General body meetings aim to prepare members for postgraduate life. The group offers “professional development and STEM outreach,” which include bringing guest speakers to the general body meetings, endorsing the Career Center’s career fairs, interviewing tips, and resume reviews.

In addition regularly held general body meetings, the Society of Women Engineers also works with current members and alumni to build community. It has brought UMBC alumni to its meetings, held graduate student panels, and “class picking socials,” where younger students receive advice from upperclassmen.

“The best thing about [the Society of Women Engineers] is that it’s for all ages, all majors,” said Tippett.

When asked about her experiences as women in the STEM field, Rosario mentioned the lack of women in her engineering major. “There are not [sic] many women in [chemical engineering],” she said. “There are never more than five women in a class; it’s all men.” The size of the Society of Women Engineers reflects the number of women in engineering; meetings sometimes have as few as five attendees.

Tippett talked about how the Society of Women Engineers helped her grow. She mentioned building connections on campus and having to be a leader, both of which UMBC promotes with career fairs and programs like LeadFest, that promote joining student organizations on campus. Rosario stated that reaching out to mentors in her major has helped during her studies at UMBC.

Tippett ended with advice for new students navigating UMBC: “It’s all what you make it… Be confident, know your professors well,” Tippett said. “As long as I breathed confidence, nobody doubted me.”