WE22: A World of Opportunity Awaits

A team from the Netflix show “Baking Impossible” stands in front of their fully edible engineering-inspired creation at the WE22 conference’s closing celebration.

Houston opened its downtown for SWE’s WE22, welcoming more than 16,000 women engineers, collegians, students, and stakeholders, who experienced an array of offerings — from educational trainings to collegiate tech competitions to building with Lego bricks to an expansive career fair.

A World of Opportunity Awaits was the theme of SWE’s annual conference held this year at the George R. Brown Convention Center. WE22 produced some of the highest numbers to date: 16,000-plus total attendees, 386 exhibitors, and 120 conference sponsors.

Bakineers from the “Baking Impossible” show reveal their massive, engineered cake during the WE22 closing celebration to the cheers, applause, and camera flashes of conference attendees.

Three exceptional and accomplished keynote speakers inspired those in person and in their virtual spaces, offering glimpses of their challenges seeking to balance family and profession and how they built their careers in STEM. Phyllis Schneck, Ph.D., vice president and chief information security officer for Northrop Grumman, served as the opening keynote; and Nancy Post, vice president of embedded software and solutions, Intelligent Solutions Group at John Deere, welcomed attendees on day two as the morning keynote. Closing out the conference was Michele L. Sullivan, noted philanthropist, author, and social impact advisor. Her keynote talk was dotted with humor and her experiences growing up with a rare form of dwarfism, using examples from her book, Looking Up: How a Different Perspective Turns Obstacles into Advantages. Sullivan reminded attendees that they can also make an impact.

More than 380 exhibitors took over the George R. Brown Convention Center, sharing information about their companies as attendees sought opportunities for internships and new careers.
Northrop Grumman Vice President Phyllis Schneck, Ph.D., led the WE22 conference as the first keynote speaker, giving a talk titled “Career Planning When the Sky Is the Limit.”

WE22 offered an array of training and educational presentations, professional development and networking programs, and fun and relaxing activities for students as well as seasoned professionals. Some of the programming included the Team Tech and collegiate poster competitions; morning yoga; a series of tech talks showcasing insights into new innovations and advancements in technology; the “Invent It. Build It.” and Outreach Expo for middle and high school girls; and the State of Women in Engineering, a panel presentation offering an overview of the research on issues affecting women in engineering. The two-day career fair, billed as the world’s largest for women in engineering and technology, provided plum opportunities for attendees to snag academic, internship, and career opportunities with top employers.

WE22 marked the debut of the Digital Garage, a space designed for both students and professionals to learn about and experience the power of digital tools being used across the industry. Through hands-on demonstrations of virtual reality simulations, augmented reality, scanning equipment, artificial intelligence, and more, the Digital Garage gave attendees the opportunity to consider where these tools can take us in the future.

The Outreach Expo attracted students from around the region to build their own creations and, as these students are doing, observe demonstrations of what’s possible with a bit of imagination.
Students participating in the Outreach Expo take up floor space to build something new using items from their “Invent It. Build It.” boxes.
Middle school students from throughout the region engaged in STEM-related hands-on activities tailored to their interests and age level.
Teamwork makes the dream work and also inspires creativity as these two middle school students demonstrate during the “Invent It. Build It.” event.

Youth Protection Policy Implemented

The Society of Women Engineers is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all participants in SWE-sponsored youth programs held around the world. Youth protection requires continued vigilance. We work every day to protect children through appropriate policies and procedures at every level of our organization.

SWE recently implemented a new Youth Protection Policy for SWE members and affiliates interacting with youth under age 18. All SWE staff and volunteers are required to complete the SWE Youth Protection: Code of Conduct and Standards for Interacting with Youth online training program in the Advance Learning Center prior to working with youth under age 18 at SWE-sponsored events.

The Youth Protection training must be completed every three years. For more information and instructions on how to access the training, please visit swe.org/youthprotection.