On Oct. 27-29, a group of five engineering students traveled from Fairfield to Austin, Tex. with Marcia Arambulo Rodriguez, assistant dean of the School of Engineering, for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)’s annual WE17 conference.
With more than 10,000 attendees, WE17 is the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology fields. This year’s three-day event featured hands-on workshops that encouraged participants to think in new ways. Christina Ficaro ’18 enjoyed a unique session that combined engineering with meditation. “I found it to be incredibly interesting and hope to incorporate some of the tips and tricks into my daily life.”
Liliana Delmonico ’20 recalled a presentation in which four successful women engineers shared their personal experiences of internships and job hunting. “They also gave very helpful hints about resume building and discussed opportunities I never thought of, such as Fulbright.”
Both Ficaro and Delmonico found the career fair – with over 300 exhibitors from diverse engineering fields – to be the most rewarding part of the conference, but for opposite reasons. Ficaro said that “connecting with female engineers from amazing companies” helped solidify her career path, and revealed that “I now know that I would like to pursue a career in aerospace engineering.”
The career fair showed Delmonico that having a less well-defined path is fine, too. Of the women she met, she discovered that “some received their degree in electrical engineering and now work in biotech companies. Some had clear visions of their career paths after undergrad and some did not. This uncertainty was inspiring to me, as someone who is still unsure where she wants to take her bioengineering degree.”
Neither Ficaro nor Delmonico had ever been to Austin before. Ficaro remarked on the number of buildings with rooftop restaurants and gathering spaces, and thought that “seeing the old southern architecture was an awesome experience.”
“Texas had such a different atmosphere than I am used to, and I was astounded by how different the culture was,” noted Delmonico, who is a Fairfield, Conn. native.
Home state connections were forged in Texas when Fairfield University engineers had dinner with a group from the University of Connecticut one night. Said Delmonico, “It was really valuable to learn what UConn is doing in their SWE clubs, and to make connections with other women in engineering who are local to us. Because of this, we hope to plan an event together in the spring.”
Connections to home felt even stronger to Ficaro when she discovered that a UConn student sitting at the table lives just up the street from her back home in Berlin, Mass. “We hope to keep in touch and maybe even go out for a bite to eat when we both get home for break.”