Why the Society of Women Engineers Means So Much to Me

October 24, 2017 | Author: Jennifer Reich

To many people SWE is simply an acronym for the Society of Women Engineers, a national organization with a mission to “stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.”

But to me, my husband, my parents and even my children, SWE is a word that’s often heard around our home as I describe what’s going on in my life. That’s because SWE is as much a part of me as being an engineer or even being a wife and mother. SWE actually came before all of those things!

In the fall of 1997, I went to my first SWE meeting for the Arizona State University student section. I was a college freshman and had just moved away from home, so I wanted to meet new people. I was eager to make new friends also entering the engineering college. Little did I know then how many gifts and blessings SWE would bring my way over the next 20 years.

In college, SWE helped me hone my leadership skills and branch out from my introverted tendencies as I took on the role of officer. I learned to speak more comfortably in front of large groups and to present myself effectively at career fairs. As a 20-year-old, these skills were invaluable to landing internships, including a life-changing summer internship in England.

Once I started working at Honeywell, I joined the SWE Phoenix section and began meeting engineers from other industries. Having a network like that helped keep me informed and grounded. There aren’t always other women at work to socialize with when you are an engineer, so for me SWE Phoenix was where I could go for community and friendship.

I held the same role within SWE Phoenix for over a decade because being the Communications Leader allowed me to stay involved and connected with the section even when I couldn’t always attend events in person. I never wanted to let go of SWE even when life got crazy with getting married, having kids and, of course, my day job!

This led me to a new opportunity as Honeywell started getting more involved with SWE for recruiting students. As an active SWE member, I was tapped to help plan Honeywell’s efforts with attending the national conference each year. It has been 15 years since I first went to a SWE conference to recruit for Honeywell, and it is exciting to see how far we have come!

We are to a point where the recruiting process works very well (hiring 62 people last year), and the nearly 100 people who attend from Honeywell are given an immense professional development opportunity to learn, network and grow. I am proud that we not only hire SWE members into Honeywell, but that we also help Honeywell employees reap the benefits of attending a SWE conference.

Winning the SWE Emerging Leader Award is a splendidly surreal honor because the best of the best women engineers are the ones you meet within SWE. Their qualifications and skills are plentiful and astounding. They are not just inspiring women, but inspiring engineers! I am so humbled to be selected this year, and I am immensely grateful to the friends and mentors at Honeywell and in SWE who encouraged me to pursue this goal.

My husband, Brian, and my daughter, Emma, are attending the awards presentation with me, and I am thrilled to add even more meaning to the word “SWE” in our home.

Jennifer Reich

Jennifer Reich

Jennifer Reich is a Principal Engineer at Honeywell Aerospace in Tempe, Ariz. She is receiving the Emerging Leader Award from the global Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for outstanding technical excellence as a leader and expert in the field of aerodynamic analysis using computational fluid dynamics tools and for encouraging the next generation of women to excel in engineering. The award will be presented during SWE’s annual conference Oct. 26-28 in Austin, Texas.

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