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Spotlights

Society of Women Engineers now at Otterbein University

Society of Women Engineers now at Otterbein University


Mikayla Knerr ’19 had a vision of what she wanted to do in college before she ever set foot on campus. Otterbein provided her the place to turn those ideas into reality.

“I share the same personal passion and ideals that are the foundation of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE),” said Knerr. “Before I actually visited Otterbein, I spoke with engineering professor Gary Maul about my idea to start an SWE chapter and he immediately began working with me to make it happen.”

For more than 60 years, SWE has given women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry, nationally and globally. The organization is centered around a passion for members' success and continues to evolve with the challenges and opportunities reflected in today's exciting engineering and technology specialties.

Knerr began the process of establishing a SWE group on campus by recruiting her fellow classmates in Otterbein’s first Systems Engineering program, which began Fall 2015. She was able to amass enough members to formally apply to become a Collegiate Interest Group with SWE, the first level of membership with the organization. The Otterbein group was officially approved for membership last March. Knerr now hopes to expand the number of students within the next year so they can become a Section, a SWE group with at least 10 members. Becoming a Section also opens doors to SWE scholarships and conference invitations. Knerr is also working with Otterbein to become a full-fledged student organization by the end of May 2016.

“The support I’ve received in starting this organization on campus has been extremely positive from the start. Beginning with those initial talks with professor Maul, to speaking at the STEAM Innovation Center announcement press conference in February, to the numerous conversations with President Kathy Krendl, I’ve had the opportunities and resources needed to keep this ball rolling,” said Knerr.

Knerr wants to use the SWE group as a way to encourage more students, especially females, to study engineering in general and at Otterbein. Her future plans for the campus organization include mentoring incoming students, outreach to local middle and high schools, scheduling industry leaders to speak on campus and attending national SWE conferences to raise Otterbein’s engineering program’s profile.

“I went with The Ohio State University’s SWE Section to the national conference this past year and knew once we got our group together we had to be there. With 200-plus companies and industry professionals, it’s a networking opportunity we can’t afford to miss,” Knerr said.

As the first academic year with Systems Engineering as an Otterbein major comes to a close, both the program and SWE group look to make great leaps in progress very soon.

“I’m so excited to help build the program and provide support for future female students at Otterbein,” said Knerr. “SWE is already such a global presence. Our membership will only lead to greater opportunities.”

Photo (l to r)
Back row: Dassan Jefferson, Dani Kissel, Reagan Nemec
Front row: Elizabeth Ries, Mikayla Knerr, Elisa Curl

Learn more about Otterbein’s Systems Engineering program.

Visit the STEAM Innovation Center website for more information on its programs and partners.