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Women in Engineering - University of Illinois

Women in Engineering at the University of Illinois had an outstanding 2015-2016 school year and we are thrilled to share how our students, women-centered engineering groups, staff, and alumnae INNOVATE, COLLABORATE, and SUCCEED. Throughout this newsletter, you will find multiple ways YOU can engage with the WIE community. Please fill out our new WIE Alumnae Engagement Survey if you would like to get more involved!  



The WIE Freshman Orientation is a long-standing tradition that allows incoming women engineering students the opportunity to meet their peers and form community before classes even begin. In 2015, 255 incoming women freshman participated in this program and were mentored by 45 upperclassmen! WIE Orientation has proven to be an important part of a successful transition to Engineering at Illinois. As of last year, University Housing no longer waives the early move-in fees for orientation participants. To cope with the drastic increase in costs, WIE has had to shorten the program and institute other changes so that the orientation can continue to be offered free of charge to participants. We thank our corporate sponsors Abbott and Boeing for making this event possible. Check out more photos and information here

Did you attend WIE Orientation (aka WIE Camp)? Are you still in touch with WIE Orientation friends? Please let us know at how important WIE Orientation was for you. 


WIE launched the WIE Lead program based on Barnard College's Athena Core10. The goals of this series are to create and promote innovative approaches to leadership development and give a fresh look at the skills and attributes today's leaders need to achieve, maintain, and maximize their impact. The program aims to challenge cultural stereotypes of leaders while fostering a dialogue that expands our understanding of leadership. We host two-hour workshops featuring an alumni speaker, interactive activities and monthly challenges. These workshops give our students the opportunity to join a leadership community where they can learn from each other, connect with alumni and grow as leaders. The series is also an approved workshop for the campus leadership certificate program, a long-term leadership development experience. Topics for the 2016-2017 school year include emotional intelligence, entrepreneurial spirit, negotiation, leverage, courage, and vision. Please fill out our Alumnae Engagement Survey if you would like to be a featured speaker! 


The Women in Aerospace and Women in MechSE student organizations partnered throughout the year to host "Happy Lunches" to engage their members with professors and local professionals. Both organizations have the goal of creating an inclusive and open community for women in their department while also improving the growth and leadership of their members. Great job collaborating ladies! 


Another great year for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Illinois! At the annual SWE Conference, SWE Illinois was represented by 38 undergraduates and 12 graduate students in Nashville, TN. SWE took home 3 membership awards, 1 outreach award, 1 communication award, and the Gold Level Outstanding Section award for their fabulous 2014-2015 year. Congratulations to Team Tech for winning 3rd place for their garage door keypad design and to Ceci Klauber for 2nd place in the graduate technical poster competition. 


Women in Computer Science holds an annual high school retreat called ChicTech that allows around 50 high school girls to gain exposure to computer science. These young women participate in fun activities such as a campus scavenger hunt, computer science trivia, and workshops where they work on an individual project. As the number of women accepted to study Computer Science here at UIUC increases, WCS is excited to support them in their endeavors!


Women in Engineering hosts a monthly Advisory Board meeting that brings together female student RSO leaders from across the College of Engineering. These meetings are a space for collaboration and encourage students to come up with new innovative programs. The WIE Advisory Board is yet another way WIE works to build the network of women in Engineering at Illinois. 


Congratulations to GradSWE for hosting their 4th weSTEM conference to empower graduate women in STEM fields. This one-day event provides a forum for STEM leaders to inspire one another to excel at the scientific frontier, developing solutions for the next generation of global challenges. Engineers and scientists share academic, professional, and personal experiences, providing insight into their paths to success in STEM fields.


MARCH 2016

This year, WIE started a "Pen Pals" program with local middle school students from Campus Middle School. We matched nearly thirty girls with our current engineering students, and the pairs exchanged handmade cards and letters throughout the semester. The pairs discussed science and engineering, as well as hobbies and personal interests. The middle school girls were then invited to participate in Engineering Open House where our current students served as their guides. We were so thrilled to show young students our passion for engineering!


Special congratulations to Angie Wolters for being chosen as the 2016 Honorary Knight at the annual Knights Ball. This award recognizes a faculty or staff member who as an engineer has demonstrated leadership in their field, contributed to the enhancement of student activities, and maintained a high level of character. 

APRIL 2016

With recruiting season in full swing, WIE and current students worked hard to recruit the largest class of women engineers yet! WIE helped students write personalized postcards to all admitted women engineers, and Society of Women Engineers and Alpha Omega Epsilon hosted overnight weekend stays. 

MAY 2016

The College of Engineering is proud to announce that as of early May, 412 women have accepted enrollment in engineering, a new record at Illinois! We are especially excited to see majors such as Computer Science enrolling 44% women and Bioengineering 53% women to their freshman class! The overall freshman engineering class will be 26% women, an increase from 19% in 2015!

Featured Alumnae

As our engineering women on campus are accomplishing amazing things, our alumna are doing the same throughout the world! Check out some of our outstanding alumna that have engaged with the WIE at Illinois during 2015-2016. The large network of women engineers is one of the great features of our community and we hope you stay involved! Please click on the alumnae's name to read additional information. 

Kimmi Slaughter graduated from Mechanical Engineering in 2015 and now works for Navistar in Lisle, IL. During her time at Illinois, Kimmi produced an impactful short film encouraging parents to support their daughter's engineering interests. She made the video as part of a class she took on campus for their "This I Believe" project. She asked friends she knew from various engineering majors to be in the video because she prefers to be behind the camera. She thinks a lot of people watching the video will see it as a series of interviews, but really those featured in the video are voicing Kimmi's personal thoughts and experiences and giving a face to her story.


"One big takeaway from college is that you don’t get what you want unless you ask for it, apply for it, or reach out to get it."                                                                               -Sarah Laken (BS Bioengineering)



“I credit the University of Illinois curriculum as my foundation for my career in materials science.” 

- Carolyn Primus (BS Ceramics, UIUC. MS, PhD Material Science and Engineering, University of California)




"It’s really important to me that I can make a small impact on a lot of people’s lives, and what I do gives me that opportunity.”                               

                                                -Marrissa Hellesen (BS Computer Science, UIUC) 



"I enjoy learning about new technologies, and helping clients utilize intellectual property."

-Lilian Fitch (BS Electrical Engineering, UIUC. MS Electrical Engineering, University of Michigan) 



"I was an entrepreneur at a very early age, selling my next-door neighbor's rocks out of his driveway. I was born to create businesses."

                                          - Lori Gold Patterson (BS Mechanical Engineering, UIUC) 


"Being involved in professional societies has helped give me self-confidence when people turn to me for advice."

- Beth Keser (BS Material Science and Engineering, Cornell University. PhD Material Science and Engineering, UIUC.)  


"Pioneer... this word has evolved to mean someone who tries to do something novel for the first time. Someone who treads the uncharted."                                                                              
- Sakshi Srivastava (BS Electrical Engineering, UIUC)