5,000+ attendees from 400+ collegiate and professional sections. 250+ Career Fair exhibitors. 120+ professional development sessions. Three days of energy in Houston, TX. One annual conference: this was WE12, the Society of Women Engineers’ 2012 Annual Conference!
Penn’s SWE section jetted down to Houston to experience WE12 during November 8-10, 2012. To provide a little background on SWE, the not-for-profit educational and service organization has been empowering women to succeed, advance, and be recognized for their contributions in engineering fields since 1950. However, SWE is not limited to women engineers contrary to the name; from females in any STEM field to males in support of women in technology, all receive a warm welcome. This was my second time attending a SWE Annual Conference, so I already had a grasp of the convention’s magnitude and was excited to partake in all that the weekend offered.
The sheer number of people you meet and interact with at conference is absolutely mind-blowing. Bringing together so many brilliant minds under one roof is an incredible opportunity to learn from each other’s diverse experiences. Starting conversations with other conference attendees is effortless and a fantastic way to expand your network, no matter what geographical region you hail from or where your interests lie. Whether you’re talking with a recruiter from a West Coast company or conversing with a fellow SWE member from Turkey, there are vast amounts of knowledge that you can share and gain.
The most insightful parts of the conference for me were the professional development sessions. These workshops and discussions spanned seven different categories, from “Career and Life Transitions” and “Innovation in Technology and Business.” Attendees were able to learn about up-and-coming developments in engineering fields as well as self-reflect and set goals for the future. I particularly enjoyed sessions within the “Management and Strategy” division; for instance, “Leadership Techniques for Multiplying the Intelligence and Capability of the Team” analyzed two types of leaders. The speakers explored how Multiplier leaders amplify the intelligence and capability of those around them, while Diminisher leaders focus on their personal approaches and stifle an organization’s capabilities. Hearing what the speakers had to say and talking with other workshop participants was eye opening, helping me plan personal future benchmarks.
Amidst all the conferencing, us Penn SWE members made sure to get a taste of Houston for ourselves! We explored the “tunnels,” an underground labyrinth of interconnected channels beneath the entire city. We leisurely wandered the streets, basking in the sun and enjoying the unseasonably warm 800 weather (unseasonable for chilly Philly, that is!). Houston is known for its excellent barbecue and Vietnamese cuisine, so we also made sure to feast on brisket, pulled pork, and pho while in town.
All in all, the trip was a blast. SWE is a great organization to get involved with for its professional, philanthropic, and social ventures—and hey, maybe you can attend the next society conference with us in Baltimore next year! (: