Drexel University is known as an engineering school, so it only makes sense to have such a large number of engineers. Sadly though, most of these engineering students are men. The purpose of Society of Women Engineers at Drexel (SWE) is to provide support and encouragement to the women engineers on campus, something we at Her Campus Drexel couldn’t be more excited about. We reached out to Samantha Schneider, President of SWE, to talk about her experiences on campus as an engineer and the inspiring ways their organization promotes unity and strength among women engineers.
Samantha came to Drexel from Pottstown, PA, and is an environmental engineer in the BS/MS program. She’s been involved with SWE on campus since freshman year when she wanted to get involved with a professional organization. Immediately after joining, she applied for and received the title of Social/Orientation chair, which allowed her to work more closely with existing SWE members as well as reach out to new students who might be interested in becoming engineers. “Many of the older officers served as mentors and encouraged me to stay involved in engineering.” Sam said.
After being encouraged to stick with engineering by older members, Sam became the President of SWE, and manages 19 officers who aim to provide a beneficial experience to members on an academic, personal, and professional level. She and her team work to support and offer resources to engineering students at Drexel and those interested in the major throughout the rest of the community. These activities range from company information sessions, a mentorship program that pairs freshmen with upperclassmen, and multiple other fun social events throughout the term.
This year SWE also had the privilege to host the Region E Mid-Atlantic Conference Feb 20-22. They submitted the winning bid in 2013 and worked on planning the event right up until it started! Their hard work didn’t go unnoticed as over 450 people attended. They had workshops, speakers, a career fair, and an awards dinner, bringing together students and professional SWE members for a priceless experience. Other events SWE was involved with in February included Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and FemmeHacks, an all-female hackathon created by a member of SWE!
Sam is proud of her involvement with SWE and credits the organization with all of the amazing opportunities sent her way. She’s met Alma Forman, the first woman to graduate with a civil engineering degree from Drexel Institute of Technology, and Ellen Kullman, the CEO of Dupont. Her role allows her to work with some brilliant engineers, both in the community and on her own team. Although her leadership and management experiences are valuable, Sam says the greatest opportunity she’s had at Drexel was being able to empower other women engineers at Drexel and beyond.
Sam and Alma Forman
Things haven’t always been this great for SWE though, as people have questioned the necessity and effectiveness of the organization. The negative feedback and the low number of female engineers are issues Sam and her team must face. “Diversity is extremely important in problem solving and it is frustrating when others don’t see the importance of diversity in engineering and leadership.” Sam says.
Her experiences, positive or negative, have given her a unique experience here at Drexel, as well as provided motivation for her to grow as an engineer and a student. “I have gained the confidence to share my ideas or to say ‘Yes’ even when I doubted my qualifications.” Sam says. She plans to work for an engineering firm focused on green building when she graduates, making full use of her environmental engineering degree.
While still on campus, she’s been active in other groups around Drexel, being a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority, a Drexel Community Scholar, and a member of the club field hockey team. As like many other students, Sam loves exploring Philadelphia and enjoys the amazing spots around the city serving up delicious food!