Outstanding Collegiate Member
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
For developing initiatives to improve outreach and engineering education; for a commitment to increasing membership and service within SWE; and for inclusive leadership that inspires others to serve.
From a young age, Samantha Balistreri was enamored by vintage aircraft. She was raised in Farmingdale, New York, a town rich in aerospace history and the historic home of Republic Aviation, the manufacturer of the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Her curiosity in aviation flourished as she gravitated toward technology and eventually to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona Beach, Florida, where she is pursuing a degree in software engineering.
During her first year at Embry-Riddle, Balistreri joined the Society of Women Engineers collegiate section because of its dedication to K-12 outreach and for the opportunities SWE presented for personal and professional growth. She attended WE17 and was soon elected to the Embry-Riddle SWE collegiate fundraising committee. That committee experience ignited her ongoing involvement and commitment to SWE. Balistreri has served in various roles on both the section and Society levels, as well as having participated in SWE’s Future Leaders program. These experiences encouraged her to join the Society-level outreach committee, where she was group lead for the committee’s training and development work group and is now the lead for the committee’s DEI in outreach work group.
After her first year, Balistreri was elected section treasurer and was responsible for section finances as well as leading the fundraising committee. She established procedures for members to request funds and track expenditures, a process that is still in place. Balistreri organized five fundraisers, which largely supported Embry-Riddle’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Workshop (IGEW). Funds raised totaled $10,000 and reached more than 200 elementary school girls in Volusia County. As an IGEW committee member in 2020, she helped organize the section’s first virtual IGEW.
The SWE section is active on campus and has collaborated with other student organizations to plan social, professional development, and outreach events. The section’s biggest collaborative outreach program is the STEM fair for middle and high school girls to explore various aspects of STEM. In 2019, 12 organizations participated, including the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. The event earned both the Collaborative Relations and the Outstanding Co-Sponsored awards at the Embry-Riddle Student Involvement Awards ceremony.
Outside of SWE, Balistreri is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and attends seminars to learn more about the engineering profession.
Engaged in community services projects in Volusia County, Balistreri has organized fundraisers to benefit the Family Renew Community, a homeless shelter for families, and planned a school supplies drive for two area elementary schools.
During her time at Embry-Riddle, she has received the university’s Presidential and Women of Excellence scholarships, as well as the Louis Mancuso Memorial and Joan McKinnon Memorial scholarships independently. She has been involved in seven technical projects, participated in an eight-month software engineering co-op in which she helped prepare and publish two software releases, and participated in a 12-week systems engineering internship.
Balistreri will complete her degree in December 2021 and attend graduate school to pursue a master’s in mechanical engineering.
In her free time, she enjoys playing board games, reading fantasy novels, and crafting.