Press Release | Innovation

WE15 Features Professional Development, Commemoration and Celebration


The Society of Women Engineers’ Annual Conference Encourages Attendees to Reach Out to Reach Up

CHICAGO (Oct. 29, 2015) – The Society of Women Engineers commemorated a successful 65 years as the world’s largest advocate for women in engineering and technology with WE15, the annual conference and career fair held this year in Nashville, Tenn. Oct. 22-24, 2015. More than 9,000 attendees gathered this year for education, celebration and inspiration. WE15 featured more than 350 educational and professional development sessions, more than 300 career fair exhibitors interviewing for open positions, an assortment of networking opportunities, a variety of engineering competitions, and awards presentations to 60 individuals for their impact on their peers and their industry.

“We saw a record number of attendees in Nashville as we celebrated the accomplishments of our dedicated members and encouraged our collegiates and professionals to Reach Out to Reach Up,” said Colleen Layman, president of SWE. “Whether it meant being a role model to peers, contributing to the community or bettering the engineering profession as a whole, the amount of inspiration and accomplishment present at WE15 was remarkable. As the society grows, SWE remains a lifetime influence in the professional and personal journey of these women and the partners that support inclusion.”

The celebration kicked off with a keynote speech from Nicola Palmer, senior vice president and chief network officer at Verizon Wireless, discussing finding the confidence to succeed in engineering along with the importance of work and life integration. Attendees at WE15’s outreach event for young girls, Invent It. Build It, heard from Sylvia Acevedo who was named one of the top 100 American Women in STEM by U.S. News and World Report. Acevedo discussed her career path, what helped her succeed and how engineering has been a rewarding career for her. The conference wrapped up with words from Maria Fernanda Mejia, a recognized global leader named one of the 50 most powerful women in Mexico. Maria has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 50 Latin women executives. She had much to share on her experiences in working with diverse cultures and the important role her family played in her success.

More than 350 girls, 200 parents and 150 exhibitors attended WE15’s featured outreach event, Invent It. Build It, created to encourage more young girls to understand and explore a future in STEM. Hosted by PBS Design Squad’s Deysi Melgar, the event allowed the girls to participate in hands-on engineering activities and learn more about how engineering impacts everyday life.

WE15 also set the stage for the conclusion of many engineering competitions that members and non-members have been working diligently on throughout the year.

  • PepsiCo SWE Student Engineering Challenge – New team-based competition beginning this past spring when students were challenged to develop ideas that improve environmental sustainability and its impact on society. The first place teams will present their ideas at PepsiCo headquarters.
    • First Place: Jacquelyn Bradshaw and Katherine Crowley from the University of Oklahoma for “Packaging for Environment;” and Amanda Harvey and Megan Henderson from Oklahoma State University for “Custom Cola Creations”
    • Second Place: Elsa Johnson from the University of Houston for “Tidal Energy for PepsiCo”
    • Third Place: Thatcher Banh, Nina Roy and Jessica Schacht from the University of Minnesota – Duluth for “Biodegradable Plastic”
  • Google-Powered WE15 Hackathon – Professional and collegiate programmers and developers brought new ideas to life leveraging a wide spectrum of programming experiences to solve Hackathon challenges.
    • Overall Winner: Oceane Boulais, Natalie Eisner, Kate Glazko and Chris Grove
    • Overall Creativity: Jordan Kayse, Lubna Zubair and Natalie White
  • ExxonMobil Subject Matter Expert (SME) Bowl – Developed to display the high-level of talent our future engineering professionals offer.
    • First Place: SWE Region C
    • Second Place: SWE Region G
    • Third Place: SWE Region D
  • Schlumberger’s “Stilettos to SteelToes” contest – An essay competition designed to encourage collegiate SWE members to consider and explore the options of nontraditional career paths. Through participation, SWE members earned financial support for their SWE sections, and eligibility for individual scholarships. Christina Finizio from the University of Florida is this year’s grand prize honoree.
  • The Boeing Company Team Tech Competition Awards – The competition is designed to illustrate the importance of teamwork and create opportunities for engineering students to work with and learn from established engineers. Competitors must work together to produce project reports, obtain industrial advisor evaluations and prepare oral presentations. In each case, the team’s projects demonstrated a grasp of the challenge and creative problem solving.
    • First Place: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo working with Lockheed Martin on a Standardized Payload for the Desert Hawk III Unmanned Aircraft System. Received $5,000.
    • Second Place: University of the Pacific working with Tierra Luna Engineering, LLC on their CubeSat Payload project. Awarded 2,500.
    • Third Place: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign working with The Chamberlain Group, Inc. for their work on Key In: Innovative Garage Control Technology. Awarded $1,250.
    • Honorable Mention – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities working with Medtronic for their System for Easy and Reliable Diagnosis of Hypertension Using Retinal Imaging

For more information about the Society of Women Engineers, visit

About SWE

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), founded in 1950, is a not-for-profit educational and service organization. SWE is the driving force that establishes engineering as a highly desirable career aspiration for women. SWE empowers women to succeed and advance in those aspirations and receive the recognition and credit for their life-changing contributions and achievements as engineers and leaders. For more information about the Society please visit or call 312.596.5223.

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