At the beginning of Spring Break, 20 PSWE members, board members and general members alike, went to the Regional Conference at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. This was last regional SWE conference ever, since the national SWE organization will be restructuring. Nevertheless, this conference was intended to help us gain professional skills such as in networking, choosing our career paths, and deciding whether to go to graduate school.
Here are several of our favorite moments:
- The keynote speaker kicking off the conference. This was practically a favorite among all of us. Patricia Poppe, the president of CMS Energy, is a former Boilermaker herself! While attending Purdue, she helped put together another Region H Conference. She gave some really good advice to us by using a road trip analogy: pick your route, go full speed, ask for directions, leverage on/off ramps, and keep your engine tuned. But most importantly, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
She ended her speech by answering the age-old question: how do you balance your work and personal life? Well, the truth is, you don’t. Both aspects of your life should relate to each other as long as you love what you do. Some of our group went to her Q&A session later, where she addressed questions like if she faced gender bias at work (which she didn’t). Regardless, she firmly expressed that we shouldn’t self-select out of an opportunity by saying:
“We as women think we are not as qualified for a role, (but) you are as valuable to the organization as everyone else.”
- The water problem in Flint, Michigan. This session was led by a water engineer who was involved with the Flint Water Crisis. She explained about the lead content in the pipes and how it affected the drinking water in the city. Now, she is figuring out a way to minimize the lead through a model program.
- How to be creative in engineering. Okay, so this one was my personal favorite, mostly because I like being creative in coming up with project ideas. Most of this session focused on different brainstorming activities such as juxtaposing two seemingly unrelated subjects (i.e. basketball and popcorn) together to create a new product (bowls for popcorn). Each idea should be seen as an opportunity, even if you purposefully come up with something that makes the problem worse (another good brainstorming tactic that tests your boundaries).
- Computer security and us. This session sounds like a no-brainer for us engineers, but it was really worth it, from the presentation, the speaker, to the information itself. The person leading the session, a PhD student from UC San Diego, talked about how there is a way to figure out if you’ve been sent a phishing email; check the web address. If the web address has an http or https, you’re safe (it stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure). Also, pro tip: use a long password…like 16 characters long.
All in all, even though each of us may have had different experiences, we all agreed it was a great start to our Spring Break. So, without further ado, I’m going to let our webmaster Megan Rodder and her office assistant Megan Lim take us out with a rap:
Megan is our name,
Pencil skirts are our game,
SWE conference is lit,
Let me tell you about it a bit.
*dab* Office assistant goals,
Michigan is a SWEet space,
Fries and burgers all over the place.
Engineering at its best,
Purdue above all the rest.
It’s a little cold,
But our nails are real bold.
The cherries are bomb,
Engineering with our peers,
Will remember this for years.*mic drop, final dab*
-Subhiksha, your editor