SWE Los Angeles Section Scholarships

SWE Los Angeles Section

Section Selected, Endowed Scholarships

The SWE Los Angeles Section (SWE LA) was chartered in the early 1950s.  With over 500 members, SWE LA is one of the largest professional sections.  Geographically, section membership is spread from Calabassas to Long Beach; from Pomona and La Canada to the Pacific Ocean.  SWE LA membership is most densely located in the South Bay, the Verdugos, San Gabriel Valley, and San Fernando Valley. 

SWE LA has two SWE endowed, section selected scholarships. The SWE Los Angeles Section Scholarship was endowed in 2013.  SWE undergraduate members studying any major at UCLA, USC, Caltech, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Maymount, Cal State Los Angeles, and Harvey Mudd are eligible to apply.  The Sharon Cascadden Memorial Scholarship was endowed in 2015.  Reentry and nontraditional students in any major at Los Angeles area universities are eligible to apply.

SWE LA Section Pic

Available to applicants in California only. Click here for further information.

Available to all applicants. Click here for further information.

Sharon Cascadden

Sharon Cascadden Memorial Scholarship

Sharon Cascadden [1939 – 2013]

Sharon Elaine Johnston Cascadden was born on January 13, 1939. With a father who was first a park ranger and later a petroleum geologist — positions that required relocation — she moved around the country during her childhood. Perhaps because of this, she enjoyed travel, had an innate curiosity, and a love for learning. In 1956, Cascadden enrolled at UCLA, where she studied chemistry and astronomy, and met her future husband, Neil, through a student folk dancing group both participated in. They were married in 1958 and soon began raising a family.

Cascadden became the consummate reentry student, returning to school at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in 1974, when her children were teenagers. She would later recall how she was studying for her own exams at the same time that her children were preparing for their high school finals. While at CSUN, Cascadden met Bonita Campbell, Ph.D. (a SWE Distinguished Engineering Educator), who mentored and encouraged her to, among other actions, work with a group of students to help charter the university’s first SWE section, serving as president; as well as establish Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) on campus.


Graduating in 1981 with a degree in mechanical engineering, the same year that her youngest child graduated from high school, Cascadden began working for Hughes Space and Communications Company. There, she focused on nondestructive testing and analysis, working on satellites. She retired in 1999, having contributed 22 years to the company and establishing herself as an expert in the field of nondestructive testing.


Active in the SWE Los Angeles Section and Region B, as well as on the Society level, and contributing significantly on these fronts, Cascadden received SWE’s Distinguished New Engineer Award in 1991, granted to individuals with less than 10 years in the profession. Because this award had previously been called the Distinguished Young Engineer, Cascadden joked that she was relieved the name had changed.

Throughout the years, the Cascaddens — both Sharon and Neil — attended the SWE annual conferences, rarely missing one. Frequently, they extended their stays in order to explore the area nearby. Cascadden was long associated with the Hughes-sponsored ice cream social, a fixture of the conference during the ’90s and predecessor of what is now the Wednesday night gathering that kicks off the conference.

Cascadden’s dedication to SWE’s mission was evident. She served both the Los Angeles Section and Region B, and on many key committees at the Society level. Before the annual conference was managed professionally, volunteers did the work, and Cascadden co-chaired at least two of these conventions. These experiences proved invaluable when she served on the conference programming board, where she brought historic knowledge and institutional memory to the table as well as a willingness to incorporate change for the greatest good of the organization.

Reference – SWE Magazine, Winter 2014