Society of Women Engineers President Erin Winick

Name: Erin Winick Age: 20 Year: junior Major: mechanical engineering Hometown: Tampa, FL

Her Campus: What is your position on campus? Erin Winick: “President of the Society of Women Engineers.”

HC: How did you get involved in the Society of Women Engineers? EW: “I went to E-Swamp my freshman year, which is the annual event that we host. We had 150 girls, and we all go to Lake Wauburg to do introductory stuff to engineering to get them ready to go within the engineering department, to train them and hopefully get them more involved within SWE. So I came to that my freshman year, and after that came to the general body meeting; I became historian my first year and just really found a community there. It’s hard in mechanical engineering; we are 16 percent female, so it’s a great place to find people within your major and people you can relate to.”

HC: What’s your favorite part about being president of SWE? EW: “Being in it, the thing that has helped me a lot is the mentoring program. We pair underclassmen with upperclassmen. That gives them someone they can talk to right off the bat — someone who can help answer questions about classes, internships, going on interviews, how to dress at showcase… everything like that.”

HC: And the biggest challenge? EW: “Obviously with running a big organization there’s a lot of management of people and making sure everything runs smoothly. I really enjoy the management side of things, but it’s a big change from just being within the club… It’s a lot of fun even though it’s constantly answering emails.”

HC: What other things are you involved in on campus? EW: “When I was a freshman I was actually a photographer for (The Independent Florida Alligator) because I really like the creativity side of things and because in engineering I don’t get to do a lot of that. I’m on an intramural volleyball team with SWE, and SWE is my life this year. I’m on a national committee for SWE as well… and I actually volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.”

HC: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? EW: “I definitely still want to be in engineering; I want to go into a management role and probably go back and get my MBA. I really do want to be in engineering but being in charge of organizations and doing that. I really enjoy the management side of things and being able to manage creative people because engineering is a very creative discipline that a lot of people don’t really think of it as.”

HC: What is your dream job? EW: “This past summer I worked at Caterpillar. I interned with them in their turbine division, and I kind of learned a lot more where I want to take it as far as a position… I really want to try to be in an aerospace management job. I’d love to be in San Francisco or someplace over in that area.”

HC: What are your hobbies? EW: “I’m really into photography and hiking; I’ve been into nature since I was a kid. I’m also really into sewing… I sew costumes and stuff like that based on TV shows. I have a whole group of friends that do it too. It’s something not a lot of people do, but there’s a lot of engineering in sewing, too.”

HC: Who is your role model? EW: “Sheryl Sandberg, the current Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, wrote a book called Lean In, and it’s just a really great motivator because it really shows how you can try to assert yourself in business. She doesn’t specifically talk about engineering but a lot of stuff within that field still applies. Also Debbie Sterling, the creator of GoldieBlox, which is a toy that has been taking off for young girls. It’s an engineering toy specifically geared toward girls, and I really like what she’s trying to do because when I grew up I played with Legos and Hot Wheels... so it’s really cool to be able to see something be like that for women.”

HC: What is your advice to new students? EW: “For engineering, when you get in, no one likes your calc and physics classes. I know some girls who left engineering because they didn’t enjoy what they were doing. You really just have to get through it first, and then once you get to your core classes, that’s when you should really find your place. When you get here, find a community that you can relate to and that appreciates the same things that you can. When you have people that are in the same situation as you, it really helps you succeed more.”

HC: What is your favorite memory at UF so far? EW: “For SWE, I went to National Conference last year for the first time, and being able to meet a ton of other women within my field was really cool. At UF it’s obviously football games — everyone’s generic answer — but sports here has been a lot of fun. I went to a high school where we did not do well at sports, so it’s really been fun to have that community.”