Society of Women Engineers Chapter at Notre Dame Thrives

Cbe Lab 16

As campus rumbled back to life after the COVID-19 shutdown, so too did student groups that had either slumbered or adjusted their engagement strategies while working from afar. As for Notre Dame’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the group maintained a healthy size of around 150 undergraduates, with even more graduate student participants, making it one of the largest student-run organizations on campus.

In combination with ND Women in Engineering, SWE brings together female engineering students, faculty, and alumni with the intention of creating a network to help women flourish, said Victoria Goodrich, the adviser for SWE and an associate teaching professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

“SWE supports the ND mission especially for our student growth into well-rounded, caring individuals,” Goodrich said. “Our engineering students get a wonderful foundation in the academic and technical skills to be successful through their required coursework. SWE adds in the development of professional skills, friendships, and giving of your talents through our outreach events.”

Annual programming includes mentorship programs, professional development workshops, career networking, guest speakers, and site visits, alongside social and service events, but the pandemic changed the status quo, noted Goodrich.

“One benefit of the pandemic is that we were able to have Zoom meetings with some women engineers who normally wouldn’t be able to come to Notre Dame, so our students had some new, exciting opportunities,” she said. “While the 2020– 21 year was quite different from our normal year, we’ve been able to have some really great experiences this academic year. We were able to take over 30 women to the SWE conference in Indianapolis where they were able to meet engineers from around the world and find job and internship opportunities beyond what is available at Notre Dame.”

While Zoom allowed the group to bridge the gap during the remote semester, this year SWE is highlighting its in-person events in an effort to bolster the sense of community that is at the heart of its mission and the Notre Dame mission.

“This year, we have focused heavily on building relationships between students on campus. We’ve found that many of our younger students were not able to make as many connections with such strict COVID protocols in place last year. We’ve focused heavily this year on having events that get students together in fellowship—doing crafts, sharing a meal, or just stopping by to grab a cookie!” Goodrich said.