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ASU honors students inspired at 2022 Society of Women Engineers conference


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November 28, 2022

Four Arizona State University honors students found inspiration, connections and affirmation for their chosen courses of study at this year’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Conference in Houston.

The conference, held in October, is billed as the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology. The conference included a career fair and a visit to NASA. The students received funding to attend from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU Polytechnic campus.

Students who attended the conference are: Audrey Schlichting, a senior mechanical engineering and professional flight major; Shea Lisak, a first-year professional flight major; Meredith Jaxon, a junior human systems engineering and technological entrepreneurship and management major; and Emily Sanders, a first-year software engineering major.

“The SWE conference was a great opportunity to network and meet strong women in the engineering field,” Schlichting said. “I chose these majors because of my love for aviation, inspired by the Civil Air Patrol, and my love for inventing, inspired by my dad,” she said.

Schlichting added that attending the conference will help her succeed in her honors thesis, which focuses on autonomous parachute delivery systems. “This thesis will likely become a humanitarian-focused business that aims to deliver medical supplies and food in hard-to-reach places around the globe,” she said. “I look forward to serving through this business.”

Schlichting believes opportunities are vast for women with interests in science, technology, engineering and math.

“In STEM, the practical applications of inventing with a purpose are limitless,” she said. “The world needs more engineers who are unique and different. Be different and utilize your passions for good.”

Lisak said her first flight led her to pursue her chosen degree.

“There were a number of things that sparked my interest in aviation, but the moment I truly knew this was what I wanted to do was when I took my first flight,” she said.

At the conference, Lisak attended a number of seminars and panels with real-world implications.

“I went to the Overcoming Imposter Syndrome (session), where I learned about what imposter syndrome is and how to prepare for and do well in an interview,” she said. “I also went to Leadership Lessons from the Women of Star Wars, where I learned about the characteristics of a good leader."

For Lisak, the ability to network was one of the most beneficial parts of attending the conference. “I think it is very important to network and learn about various companies so that you can find the best fit for a career,” she said. “The Society of Women Engineers Conference gave me that opportunity, and I think it was extremely beneficial.”

What advice does Lisak have for young women interested in STEM? “My advice to any young woman interested in STEM is to follow your passion,” Lisak said. “It is easier to move forward when you have a goal you are working toward, so I think it is important to focus and not be afraid to adjust.”

Jaxon went to sessions on neurodivergence, AI and space.

“The biggest takeaway was that we very much need ways to sustainably explore space that are inclusive of people's differences, and very possibly, robots too!” she said.

The Barrett students agreed that gatherings such as the SWE conference encourage more young women to join STEM fields because of the inspiration, networking opportunities and guidance they get from professional women engineers.

Jaxon said young women have unique backgrounds and gifts to offer the field and equated STEM with art.

“Be yourself, you are the only one who can,” she said. “Math is music, and music is art; there are things that will only exist because you make them. So come play!”

Story written by Barrett Honors College student Alex Marie Solomon

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