How many ways can you launch a ping pong ball into the air?

Last Saturday myself and several other SWE members participated in the College and Career Expo at Harper College.  We had a booth full of information from Engineer Your Future and fun giveaway from some sponsoring companies.  We also had a room where kids could build ping pong call launchers using paint sticks, small paper cups, duct tape and wooden spindles.

The kids were a bit daunted to begin with because we gave them very little direction.  We wanted them to be creative and it seem to have worked.  They all impressed me with their design and construction skills, especially the ones who launched multiple balls at a time.  Let me assure you that they all earned their “Future Engineer” pins.


Stay In and Vote!

It’s a great privilege to pick your leaders.  Whatever level they are at, they can have considerable influence over your life.  It’s important to take the time and express your preference for how you should be led by voting.  Presidential campaigns are ramping up, but the most pressing election on your calendar should be the SWE elections.  You have until Tuesday, May 1 to pick next year’s leaders.

One of the best part about SWE elections is that you can do it from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.  If you are a member, you should have received information with a unique code.  Go to, type in the number, read through the bios, and make your choices.  If you need help, call 312-596-5223 and a live person will walk you through it.

Less than 5% of the SWE membership voted last year.  Do your part to get that number up!


Suggestions for Sustainability

It is becoming more and more clear how we need to conserve or precious natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint. In honor of Earthday, I thought that I would provide my top 10 favorites list of easy ways to show the earth some love (in no particular order).

1. BYOB – Bring your own bag. If you forget (which I often do), and you are only buying 1 or 2 items, then tell the cashier you don’t need a bag. Sometimes I get strange looks, but it feels so good to come out of a store bagless and with the receipt in tow.

2. Turn off the water – remember to turn the water off in between activites of brushing teeth, washing hands, face, etc. This is also an easy way to teach conservation to your children. Remind them that water is a finite resource and we should only use what we need.

3. Buy a manual lawnmower – They are suprisingly easy to use and move quite well. Plus, they are a conversation starter. I can’t tell you how many neighbors we have met, just by using our manual lawnmower. It brings out the retro in all of us, plus, the price pays off in just about 1 year. At about $150 a pop, the reduction in money spent on gas will be priceless.

4. Rain barrels, and even better yet, rain gardens!! How fun is it to watch the rainwater run into a container where it is stored and you know you will be able to use it on a hot day!! I run my rain barrel water through a soaker hose and it works great!! I have yet to start a rain garden, but I hope to in my next house.

5. Plant trees and shrubs and landscape naturally. The trees and shrubs keep your house cooler and native plants require much less water. Most of the native plants I have planted required water the first year. Then after that, they come back year after year with no need for water!! VERY low maintenance!!! Plus, many of them outgrow that menacing creeping charlie (and other annoying weeds)!!

6. Reuse where you can. I can honestly tell you that at one time in our married lives, my husband and I furnished our house completely with hand me downs. We have some more new stuff now, but it always felt so good to give furniture a little more life…well loved is what I say. Also, I have always felt a sense of joy when I found a new treasure whilst “dumpster diving”. One of my favorite pieces of our artwork was found on the curb due to missing a small piece of bamboo frame.

7. Buy local with no hormones or preservatives. Fresh food tastes SOOOOOOOO good!! And it feels so good to know that you are only putting good food from mother earth into your body. It also feels good to know that the food hasn’t travelled around the globe to get to you.

8. Turn off the lights!! And appliances when you aren’t using them. This was one of the original ways to save the environment and it continues to be just as important!!!!

9. print on both sides. I don’t think that I have to say any more about this. If your eyes are particularly good, and you are just printing for reference, then also request to have more than one page per sheet. I have gone so far as printing 4 pages per sheet, double sided, when I have to print out a particularly long reference. I always get some good jostling from others when I do this, but once again, a conversation starter and I think others secretly respect my good eyesight.

10. Try to carpool. This is one of my favorites; however, sadly I haven’t been able to partake in this particular conservation effort. I will put good thoughts into the universe that one day my perfect carpool buddy will arrive.

What are your favorite conservation efforts? This is a conversation and I would love to hear your thoughts!!!

National Center for Women & Information Technology Summit

Thankfully, SWE isn’t the only organization out there that supports women in industries where they are significantly underrepresented.  One of our sister organizations is the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).  They are hosting a summit in Chicago May 22 – 24 for which SWE is the local host as our National Headquarters is here in Chicago.

The best part about this summit is that it is free!  Participants have the opportunity to attend flash talks and workshops related to women in IT and of course it will be a great chance to network.  I’m planning to attend at least one day so you can look forward to hearing more about it here.  The workshop that looks most interesting to me is “How Job Ads Can Reinforce or Undermine the Status Quo”.  This is something that never occurred to me, but it’s not terribly surprising that it could be a factor.  Have I peaked your interest?  Will I see you at the summit?

Sweeter Futures

Ever wonder if those random outreach events you volunteer for really make a difference?  SWE has recently launched a portal called Sweeter Futures whose purpose is the track the collective impact of SWE members on the future of engineering.  This initiative was started in Region B and has gone national.  Eventually this portal will become a resource for finding opportunities to get involved with outreach activities.  Until it reaches that critical mass, SWE is asking all members to log the time they spend on outreach activities.  I joined the site shortly after the participating in the DuPage Engineer’s Week event so I could log in my hours.  This site has great potential so go check it out!

SWE-CRS 312 Memebership Circle Event – Pub Grub

Grab some Pub Grub and relax with SWE company at D4 Irish Pub!!

When: Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30PM
Where: D4 Irish Pub, 345 E. Ohio Street, Chicago, IL

RSVP to by Monday, March 19 at 5PM.

See you there!!

SWE-CRS 630 Membership Circle Event-Ladies Night Out at Bello Tea & The Tivoli

When: Tuesday March 20 at 6PM – Meet at Bello Tea
5111 Main Street, Downtown Downers Grove, IL

After dinner, everyone will walk to the Tivoli for the 7PM showing of “The Vow”.

Tivoli located at 5021 Highland Avenue in Downers Grove, IL.

RSVP to:

Regionals Recap – Part 2 – Investing on Purpose

After breakfast at Regionals we had a break-out session while the students had their membership meeting.  I chose the “Savvy Women Invest on Purpose” session led by Haly Besaw.  She is currently a Financial Advisor for Baird in Milwaukee, but at heart and by degree she is an engineer.  She had some entertaining stories about advising engineers on their finances and how her colleagues didn’t always enjoy advising engineers because we are so numbers and details focused.  I’d never thought about it before, but it would be nice to talk money with someone who thought like me, or at least really understood why I am like I am.

The main thing I took away from that session was to get specific about what my goals are.  Right now I just save money because that is what my parents taught me to do, and I want to be able to live comfortably when I retire.  I need more of a plan and purpose that that.  She told us about a woman who died with something like a million dollars in the bank (or some really large number) but never helped her grandchildren pay for school.  I don’t want to be that lady.  I want my money to do the most good that it can for my family and others so it’s time to get intentional about it.

See?  This is why I write this blog.  I was all convicted about doing this four weeks ago at the conference, but I’d already let it fall too low on my todo list.  Now it will get back up there where it belongs.  So tell me, what purpose are you saving and investing for?

Regionals Recap – Part 1

It’s been a few weeks since the Region H conference up in Madison, WI.  Conferences are such an energizing experience for me.  I inevitably meet interesting people, attend thought-provoking sessions and get inspired to do an try new things in SWE.  The day started with breakfast and bids to host next year’s conference which means fun things on the table to try to sway our votes.  I enjoyed the m&ms, Hershey kisses and Playdough.  I generally vote based on location, which would have meant Purdue but Michigan Tech put together such a great presentation I found myself wanting to go to the Upper Peninsula in February.  Ultimately the University of Minnesota won the 2013 conference.  I’m hoping for as mild of a day next year.  During a break we wandered around the capitol.  They were having a cross country skiing competition.  Sadly there was no snow so they actually had to truck it in to create a man-made track around the capitol building.  Surely an engineer was involved in that process somewhere!  Perhaps even one of the engineers at the conference!

Stay tuned for more about the conference in the coming days!

Happy Belated Birthday Girl Scouts!

I really meant to post this yesterday, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.  March 12, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America.  Like SWE, Girl Scouts is about empowering girls.  SWE has partnered with Girl Scouts over the years, both nationally and at the local level, which seems like an obvious pairing.  Were you a Girl Scout?  A Brownie?  What opportunities did the Girl Scouts give you to explore the world around you?  I loved the camping trips, the crafts and earning the badges.  I could have done without the cookie selling.  The cookie eating is much more enjoyable.

I don’t remember any STEM-related badges or activities, though maybe if I think harder I can picture a badge with binary on it that I might have earned.  Certainly there are more of those options now.  What badges can you still remember earning?  How do you support the Girl Scouts?  Buying cookies counts!