Happy St. Patty’s Day everyone. Hope you’re sporting some festive green clothing!
In the spirit of St. Patty’s Day, let’s talk about the Region H Conference which took place at Notre Dame over spring break!
About 20 Tech SWE students started their Spring Break off right and hopped on a bus (even equipped with bunk beds!! fancy fancy!) at 2 am to begin the 9 hour, 500 mile trip down to Notre Dame. To give you a first hand experience about what happened at conference, Sam Kallman answered some questions below. There are also several FAQ’s answered about SWE Conferences in general that would be great to look at if you’re thinking of attending the National or Regional conference next year!
First, let’s start with this, What is a SWE Conference?
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Region H Conference is an annual event attended by collegiate and professional members of Region H. The Region H conference supports diversity in engineering, provides networking opportunities with prominent companies and includes personal, professional, and SWE development activities. The theme for the 2015 Conference is “the Brains and the Beauty.” –SWE Region H Conference Website http://2015sweregionhconference.nd.edu/
Conferences, both Regional and Societal, provide members with the opportunity to develop professionally, personally, and understand the Society. Each conference inspires members to become more involved with their sections and promotes development.
Do students and professionals attend?
Yes! This is a fantastic networking opportunity!
How many people attend this conference?
I am not sure about the exact number, but I continuously heard approximately between 700 – 800 collegiate and professional members were in attendance from the Region. The Region H includes SWE sections of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It is the largest region of SWE with about 2,800 members, 45 university sections, and 13 professional sections.
Are there plenty of things to keep you busy the entire time?
Absolutely! – We had the opportunity to go on tours of the Chocolate Factory, Honeywell Factory, Campus, and Stadium the Friday afternoon after our arrival. That evening we had the opportunity to meet and greet other attendees over dinner and dessert. Later that evening our section participated in the photo booth, free back massages, manicures, and pedicures. A sponsor of the Conference was Keurig, so the DoubleTree hotel where Tech stayed had Keurigs all over and prepped for brewing beverages. Saturday morning began bright and early and we were at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center by 8 am for the Welcome, State of SWE Address. That remainder of that morning was filled with Collegiate and Professional Meeting and the school hosting the 2016 Region H Conference was determined. The University of Wisconsin – Platteville will host the next Region H Conference. The day was then broken up by a Keynote lunch in Notre Dame’s South Dining Hall (this hallway inspired the production of Harry Potter film productions) sponsored by Boeing. The afternoon was then filled with breakout sessions and a career fair. Sessions that I specifically attended were “Managing the Opposite Sex”, “Persuasion”, and “Building A Team and Making It Work.” Our section counselor, Britta Jost presented a session called “Interviewing with Success” and many of our section members attended her session.
Are there a variety of sessions based on where I am in my career/my future plans?
You bet! The conference planning committee works hard to make sure that there are sessions for all levels of skill-sets. A few example sessions are “How to Have a Successful Internship”, “Hit the Ground Running”, “What’s Next? Is Graduate School a Good Fit for You?”, “Energy Industry”, and “Being a SWE Mentor or Advisor”.
What were some popular activities for exploring the local area?
This year at the Region H Conference, the Keynote Speaker spoke at lunch, so Saturday evening was filled with an evening out on the town where we were able to spend our “Downtown Dollars” at local participating restaurants. Many members tried sushi, thai, fine dining, and most made sure they checked out and made some prime purchases at Yummy Cupcakes and the Chocolate Factory.
What were some of the most memorable things for you at conference?
I LOVE campuses! The University of Notre Dame was gorgeous, plus I think it was the first time anyone from Tech saw sunshine since last fall. This conference had a lot of members in attendance that were not a part of CHEB and I enjoyed bonding with each of them – there is something special about spending personal time with members that just makes conferences that much better. With this being my last conference as a collegiate member, I could not have imagined a better conference. I also had the opportunity to meet with the other collegiate section presidents in attendance and we shared best practices and were able to collaboratively discuss how to progress each of our sections.
What was the most valuable thing you learned from a session?
The most valuable thing I personally learned from this Region H Conference was the differences between persuasion and advocacy. I learned the importance of being an advocate for what one believes, but to always consider the other parties perspective.
Where will conference be held next year?
University of Wisconsin – Platteville. This conference will be 380 miles away from Tech – woohoo!
How can I get to attend conference next year?
Become an active Michigan Tech SWE member and you can sign up to attend conference. This year the Michigan Tech College of Engineering were the primary sponsors for our section. If it were not for the College of Engineering, not all of the members would be able to attend. Huge thank-you to the College of Engineering.
Do you have to be involved in CHEB to be able to attend conference or can I go as a general member?
Any active general member can attend the conference. It is actually highly encouraged for general members to attend the Regional Conferences in order to learn more about the Society and the personal opportunities each will have.