Society of Women Engineers

FY20 SWENext Award Winners

Congratulations to all of the FY20 award winners! We are so proud of you!

The SWENext Local Innovator Award recognizes outstanding young women who are shaping the future by developing an engineering identity in themselves and others. Award recipients exemplify intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm, and leadership in the STEM community.

Lauren Kam, a high school junior from New Jersey, has been an avid participant in FIRST Robotics for over 5 years. She also created a cybersecurity club at her school and she is a coach for a MathCounts team.

Watch Lauren's Local Innovator video below.

The STEM in Action Award recognizes girls in 6th through 12th grades who are actively interested in STEM and doing something about it, such as participating in a SWENext Club, mentoring students, or raising awareness of STEM.

Sirihaasa, a 9th grader from Illinois, has placed high in many major STEM competitions, including the Congressional App Challenge and ProjectCSGIRLS. She has also participated in FIRST LEGO League since the 6th grade.

Alexis, a 9th grader from Iowa, has met with Iowa State University professors in Aerospace Engineering and privately toured Wellman Dynamics (a metal fabrication company).

Sarah, a 10th grader from Iowa, has participated in both Introduce a Girl to Engineering and Engineering Kids Camp for over 4 years. She also had done FIRST robotics since 5th grade.

Hanna, an 11th grader from California, founded a nonprofit organization (CodeHERS) aimed at empowering and inspiring women in STEM. She also serves as an AP Biology tutor.

Leslie, a 9th grader from Iowa, designed and implemented a recycling system at her school. She’s also a member of many STEM clubs, including Girls Who Code and SWENext. 

Leslie also won the Best Essay Award.  Read her essay below:

How can SWE help you build your confidence in your STEM abilities and passion for STEM subjects?

“What’s important is that you’re challenging yourself and you keep showing up.”

Tear streaked and tired, I was told this by a SWENexter on my robotics team after I had expressed my frustrations being on the Controls sub-team. 

Being a female invested in STEM has always been daunting. When I sought STEM extracurriculars, there was always a level of uncertainty and fear. Like realizing I’m the only girl in Controls, learning how to drill just this year, or walking into an Engineering class that my teachers had nominated me for, only to find three other girls.

I always thought of STEM as a past time, never something I actually could pursue when I grew up because it’s “too hard”, “not for me”, and “none of my friends are doing”. Originally, I joined SWENext because I wanted to gain just practical skills. Little did I know that I would acquire more.

SWENext has provided me a community of girls who inspire and empower each other to learn, grow, and achieve. Seeing the amazing girls in SWE in action has given me the confidence to carve my future into STEM. SWE’s mindset and learning opportunities make me more confident when CADing, programing, and bringing my ideas to the table because I know I’m capable and I’ve seen the girls do it. I’ve come to love STEM, the unknowns, the problem-solving, the methods and procedures, and the certainties of uncertainty. I know my passion will continue to grow from my newfound confidence and support of girls with dreams as big as mine.

Through SWE I strive to serve as a role model for future girls and tell them that they can do it, as long as they keep participating and challenging themselves. Just like how the girls in SWE had done for me.