SWENext Global Innovator Award Recipients

For building a solid foundation toward future success and fulfillment in engineering by demonstrating intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm, persistence, and leadership.

Akanksha, Texas

Akanksha served as president of her high school’s SWENext club, setting goals to connect with engineering professionals and other SWE chapters, build the group’s membership base, and engage with the community and the school. She planned and organized a panel discussion with four women engineers from her local SWE chapter on preparing for an engineering career. In a regional science fair, she placed third in the category of biomedical/environmental engineering with a project focused on identifying desertification through soil and hydration patterns. For this project, she designed blueprints for a rover system, created block diagrams that visualized the interactions of the rover’s components, and designed 3D digital models of the rover. In addition, she mentored an elementary school student working on a project on black holes, has helped teach math to underprivileged elementary school students, and has written a children’s book explaining the concepts of civil engineering using metaphors children can understand.

Alyssa, California

Alyssa applies engineering principles daily with her FIRST Robotics Competition Team, for which she serves as the mechanical engineering director, using computer-aided design, technical drawings, and hand and power tools to design and build a robot. She is a mentee in a program hosted by a local university for girls in engineering, and under her mentor’s guidance, she conducted a biotechnology research project that took the top award. During the pandemic she used her knowledge of engineering principles to co-design, print, and package more than 1,000 ear guards to hold masks in place comfortably and donated them to hospitals, police stations, retail stores, and high-risk families, among others. She has mentored six younger students through various FIRST programs and co-founded a nonprofit that will offer workshops on science, technology, engineering, and math to children. She has served as social media director and president of her school’s SWENext club and won a SWENext WE Local Award in 2023.

Harini, Washington

Harini was chosen for a selective emerging leaders program, where she explored and modeled how lidocaine interacts with ion channels to combat cardiac arrhythmia; she did this using mathematical models and Mathematica software. She also worked with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, a group of international physics institutes dedicated to the search for gravitational waves, for which she built a convolutional neural network that would automatically flag “noise” in LIGO data. She founded a nonprofit group to provide STEM resources to underrepresented, underprivileged, and minority students, and the group raised $2,500 toward the cause. As founding president of her school’s SWENext club, Harini organized a speaker series in collaboration with a nearby SWE university section that introduced high school and middle school students to SWE resources, including college application advice. As vice president of outreach for a statewide math association, she encourages girls to pursue STEM studies.

Jocelyn, California

Through a program at a nearby university, Jocelyn combined her fascination with chemistry, physics, and biology to research silicon nanomaterials and the photoluminescence of quantum dots for application in new drug delivery, in vivo cancer treatment tracking, and imaging sensors. Her project won numerous awards, including first place in a citywide science and engineering fair and a SWENext STEM in Action Award in 2023. Motivated by the recent drought conditions in California, she embarked on a self-directed project using infrared thermal imaging to detect plants’ early-drought stress conditions. This project took first place in a citywide science and engineering fair and fourth place in the statewide competition. She is active not only in her SWENext club, but in all-girls STEM clubs within her school and city, where she aims to inspire young girls through free workshops, labs, and events teaching Python programming and robotics.

Kavya, New Jersey

In her first year of high school, Kavya founded her school’s SWENext club with five girls, but the club soon grew to 50 members. During the pandemic, she led a virtual workshop series on the future of technology, organized alumni panels, and developed design challenge submissions. Through her involvement with SWE, she was selected to host DiscoverE’s ‘‘Chats with Change Makers’’ YouTube show. From the age of 14, she has worked on graduate-level engineering projects for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), developing deep-learning models that analyze cockpit video data and estimate the aerial orientation of rotorcrafts in flight. Her research will help the FAA develop strategies to reduce rotorcraft accidents, and this has inspired her commitment to become an engineer. As an intern with the Network Contagion Research Institute, she programmed algorithms that can identify real-time threats from social media data. As a researcher for the Moffitt Cancer Center, she uses machine learning to analyze patient data.

Madeline, California

Through her involvement in Growing Up STEM, Madeline helped revitalize a chemistry magic show for elementary school students to make it more interactive. She co-produced, directed, and acted in the show, which is meant to spark children’s interest in STEM. After her grandmother was nearly scammed online, she independently created a website to help seniors with managing their digital security. For a Science Olympiad Trajectory event, Madeline combined her knowledge of Newton’s third law — the arc of a projectile — and how to use a hand saw to design and build a catapult that hit its bull’s-eye twice and took first place last year. She is also the founding president of a club called Artivist Alley, which promotes community service and blends art and activism for causes such as natural habitat loss, hospice, and mental health. Madeline received a SWENext Community Award in 2022 and SWENext STEM in Action Award in 2023.