Outstanding Collegiate Member
The University of Texas at Austin
For displaying an infectious passion for helping others; for commitment to academic excellence and service; and for promoting and encouraging mentoring as a key component of students’ success.
Sophia Xu is a third-year electrical and computer engineering student at The University of Texas at Austin. Like many others at UT Austin, Xu found a unique community within the Society of Women Engineers. She became involved in UT SWE in her first year and has actively contributed to the organization through her leadership and initiatives.
She currently serves as vice president of career development, charged with connecting SWE’s most valuable asset — its people. She piloted a new alumni program that involved the creation of an alumni database and a newsletter. She organized a professional development mentorship program and initiated alumni socials to expose UT SWE members to the possibilities of an engineering degree. This program started a 70-plus pairing alumni mentorship program using LinkedIn to establish professional followers and supporters. Xu’s initiatives have made UT SWE more efficient, inviting, and better at serving members’ needs and interests.
Xu previously served as corporate chair of the section’s corporate committee. The committee’s capstone event is Networking Night, a dinner organized by UT SWE to give attendees the opportunity to network with company representatives following the engineering career fair, EXPO. Twelve companies and 116 students, including 72 SWE members, attended. To assist and ease the burden of logistics and planning, Xu sought to automate the process and created a web-based program that matched the participants to the companies with which they wanted to network. Additionally, she developed an app to run the program and created a graphical user interface so the app would be easy to use and accessible for future officers in charge of organizing this event. For her various initiatives to advance UT SWE, Xu received the FY20 WE Local Rising Star Award.
She continues her dedication to serving engineering students through membership in the Student Engineering Council, Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Women in Engineering Program. She volunteers with these organizations to build community among engineering students and supports programs and workshops that involve mental health, self-care, and well-being. She has also been a peer assistance leader for the Women in Engineering Program and served as a mentor for first-year students, helping them adjust to campus life and their academic programs.
Xu attended the WE19 conference and attributes her decision to pursue a postsecondary degree to the conversations she had with SWE alumni. During the conference, she was also able to network with a representative from Apple, secure an internship as a systems engineer, and work on a project that directly added to Apple’s ecosystem.
Outside of school, Xu enjoys running, playing and following tennis, making videos, and spending time with her family.