Penn State Society of Women Engineers wins top prize for sixth consecutive year

Tessa M. Woodring
December 05, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Society of Women Engineers received the 2019 Outstanding Collegiate Section (OCS) Gold Mission Award for the sixth consecutive year at the WE19 National Conference on Nov. 8. This award is the highest possible collegiate recognition within the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

“This recognition is a tremendous accomplishment, given the incredibly high standards and fierce national competition to recognize measurable year-long impact,” said Cheryl Knobloch, director of the Penn State Women in Engineering Program and Penn State SWE chapter adviser. “Our ambitious Penn State SWE members consistently commit to excellence and innovatively generate programming to advance their engineering peers and enrich our college. Their well-deserved recognition distinguishes them as visionary leaders and models for collegiate SWE chapters nationwide. We are very proud of their accomplishments.”

OCS Gold Mission Award recipients are selected from applications submitted by SWE chapters from all over the country. The society gives the award to the chapters that have made the most significant contributions to SWE, the engineering community and their campuses. Penn State SWE’s application outlined the group’s numerous events and expanded upon the chapter’s promotion of SWE’s strategic goals, which are centered on professional excellence, globalization, advocacy, diversity and inclusion. 

“I believe what sets us apart is the amazing support we have from Penn State, our sponsors and our alumni,” said Kayli Rentzel, president of Penn State SWE and mechanical engineering senior. “Penn State is truly a place like no other, and I think we are blessed to be able to represent it.” 

Founded in 1975, Penn State SWE helps its members stay connected with each other and other women in the engineering industry through numerous events throughout the year. The chapter’s 225 undergraduate members engage in professional development sessions with corporate sponsors, organize the fall and spring Engineering Networking Reception and co-sponsor the spring Engineering Career Fair. Penn State SWE also participates in campus-wide events, including THON, Homecoming and spirit events. 

“We are constantly improving and growing our section,” Rentzel said. “Even though we have won this award multiple times, we know this does not mean our section is perfect. There are many different ways to improve the events we have every year as well as create new initiatives.”

Two of the newest additions to Penn State SWE include a leadership team retreat held at the beginning of semester and a new student global outreach director who organizes events to promote international opportunities and education of cultural competencies.

Penn State SWE was also recognized at WE19 for excellence in “Best Practices” for two categories: professional development and global. These awards were given for specific events that Penn State SWE held in the past year. 

Penn State SWE was recognized in the global category for Study Abroad 101. This event focused on helping students with the process of applying to study abroad programs while at Penn State. It also featured a panel of students who talked about their own study abroad experiences and answered questions from the attendees. 

The chapter was recognized in the professional development category for its "STAR!" interview technique event. At the event, members of SWE presented on the best ways to answer behavioral-based interview questions. Attendees were given examples to practice in order to prepare for interviews at future career fairs. 

“The Penn State SWE leadership team consistently strives to emulate the SWE national mantra to ‘Advance, Aspire and Achieve,’” Knobloch said. 

SWE is the world’s largest advocate for women in engineering, with more than 40,000 members worldwide. It works to create gender parity and equality in the engineering industries. SWE promotes the empowerment of women and the value of diversity and inclusion by helping women achieve their career goals as engineers and leaders. 

WE19, the annual SWE National Conference, was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, from Nov. 6-9. With more than 15,000 attendees each year, WE19 is the largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology. The conference brings together both professional and collegiate men and women in the field to focus on professional development, education and networking. This year’s conference celebrated the kickoff of SWE’s 70th anniversary year, 2020.

“At WE19, you meet incredible people and are able to connect with them through similar situations,” Rentzel said. “Being reminded that other women have faced even greater struggles that you have and are now presidents and CEOs of their respective companies really reminds you to continue to push forward. As we continue to excel, we will pave the way for those after us. While gender equality in engineering has improved over the past years, there is still a long way to go.”

The WE20 National Conference will take place on Nov. 5-7, 2020, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 09, 2019