UCLA Society of Women Engineers Wins National Gold Mission Award

SWE award

Courtesy of Hannah Wang
The Society of Women Engineers at UCLA’s board members at the national women in engineering conference Oct. 2022 in Houston, TX

Jan 20, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom

UCLA’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been honored with the national organization’s WE22 Gold Mission Award, a first for the UCLA student-led group.

SWE at UCLA hosts more than 50 events each year, with many of them eclipsing triple digits in participant numbers. The award recognizes the chapter’s efforts to incorporate into its programming SWE’s core values of integrity, inclusivity, mutual support, professional excellence and trust, as well as its continuous growth to achieve the national organization’s strategic goals. 

Hannah Wang, the chapter president and a fourth-year materials engineering student at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, attended SWE’s national women in engineering conference WE22 last October in Houston, Texas, along with several of her board members to accept the award.

Wang first heard about SWE through UCLA’s Women in Engineering Stayover Program, which invited high school seniors admitted to UCLA Samueli to experience their new learning environment by staying on campus for a night, rooming with a current engineering student. 

“That’s the reason why I decided to come to UCLA because they introduced me to such an amazing community,” Wang said. “I definitely would not be the same person without SWE. It has helped me gain a lot of confidence as a leader, as a person and as an engineer. Having a community of like-minded peers and people who are going through similar experiences helps me find my place in the school.”

With programming ranging from career-development workshops to outreach events at local schools, SWE at UCLA provides a wide variety of opportunities for their members to learn and grow. The chapter’s events focus on several different aspects of the SWE mission, such as improving access to education and jobs, as well as advocating for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Before becoming president, Wang served as the club’s outreach director for two years, helping plan events such as “Wow, That’s Engineering Day!” More than 100 Girl Scouts are invited to UCLA for a day filled with presentations from women leaders in STEM fields, hands-on technology demonstrations and other scientific exercises to get young women excited about pursuing a career in engineering and computer science. 

SWE at UCLA also has made an impact on a national level: researching, writing, and sending its members to Washington lobbying for congressional support for bills that align with the overall mission of the organization — diversifying STEM and improving access to higher education for underrepresented communities. 

Christine Yang, the external vice president for the chapter and a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, said that its efforts to lobby for legislation supporting diversity in STEM set UCLA apart from other SWE chapters around the country.

“Those efforts focused on diversity and inclusion,” Yang said. “We’re really pushing for that in all our events.”

On campus, SWE hosts an annual “Evening with Industry,” where attendees can make connections with potential employers. The event allows students from across campus to chat with company representatives in a casual, informal setting over a sit-down dinner. 

In her role, Yang is responsible for maintaining a relationship with corporate sponsors, putting on events including industry info sessions and keeping sponsors apprised of SWE’s ongoing activities. She said that SWE has enabled her to attain internships, and now she gets to pay it forward to help others in the same way.

“It’s helped me become a better leader,” Yang said. “I’ve learned how to work with different kinds of people as well as grow more confident in myself.”

Amy Ionescu contributed to this story.

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