UM Students Attend Society of Women Engineers Conference, Host Luncheon

Annual event included networking opportunities, alumni connections

Ole Miss students Meredith Gannon (left), Juliana Davis, Ivy Turner and Lila Burton attend the 2019 Society of Women Engineers national conference. Submitted photo

Members of the University of Mississippi chapter of the Society of Women Engineers were busy learning about their future profession both on and off campus in November.

Four members attended the SWE annual conference in Anaheim, California, Nov. 7-9. There they networked with notable companies and other engineering students from all over the U.S.

“Three members left with offers to start working after graduation in May,” said Juliana Davis, a senior biomedical engineering major from Olive Branch and chapter president. “We also were able to connect with other Ole Miss alumni at the conference and appreciated the feeling of camaraderie while being on the other side of the states.”

Other students who attended were Ivy Turner, a senior mechanical engineering major from Brandon, and Lila Burton of Jackson and Meredith Gannon of Dallas, both senior chemical engineering majors.

Upon arrival at the conference, the students were greeted by Ole Miss engineering alumnus Markeeva Morgan (BSEE 01), who gave them advice on how to win over recruiters during the career fair. Morgan also encouraged them to participate in anything and everything while in attendance.

Among the hundreds of companies offering numerous job and internship opportunities were Boeing, 3M, Fiat Chrysler, Dow, Medtronic, General Dynamics and ABB. Each exhibitor attracted long lines of attendees to talk to representatives looking to hire a diverse workforce that supports women in STEM.

“I really enjoyed the WE19 conference,” Turner said. “Meeting powerful women in the engineering field and listening to their struggles and triumphs made me feel proud and empowered to take on the engineering field, as well. I hope to attend a future SWE conference not as a student but as a professional in engineering.”

The Friday after the SWE members returned to campus, they hosted a lunch with three civil engineering alumnae who are professional engineers: Lauren Averill, Lucy Priddy and Christine Justice. Nine members attended, as well as several faculty members and one other alumna.

Following lunch, members asked alumnae questions about working in the engineering field. Among the topics discussed were work-life balance, respect within the workplace and how to prep for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.

“It was beneficial to all the members who came because they could hear what it’s like to transition from college to the workplace and could become aware of what the working world is like,” Davis said.

SWE was created to help women become successful in the engineering field. The chapter has hosted several events that engage not only student members at Ole Miss but also middle school students and alumni. Activities range from leading a design project with sixth-grade girls to hosting alumni Q&As.

Lauren Skinner, a sophomore biomedical engineering major from Ocean Springs, said SWE has helped her tremendously.

“Not only have I improved my leadership skills, but SWE also opens the door for many great opportunities,” Skinner said. “This group allows me to meet many wonderful people and has made my college experience better.”

“Our goal is to provide a way for Ole Miss students to promote women in engineering and build connections along the way,” Davis said. “We plan to have more events like this in the spring semester with different types of engineers working in the field.”