UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Society of Women Engineers (SWE) received the 2020 Outstanding Collegiate Section (OCS) Gold Mission Award for the seventh consecutive year at the virtual WE20 National Conference.
This award is the highest possible collegiate recognition within the national SWE — an organization that focuses on celebrating and promoting women in the engineering and technology fields.
“I am incredibly proud of our SWE chapter and their unparalleled achievement as recipient of the Gold Mission Award for the seventh year standing,” said Cheryl Knobloch, director of the Penn State Women in Engineering Program and Penn State SWE chapter adviser. “The magnitude of this accomplishment can’t be overstated. The competition for this national award is fierce and the remarkably high standards distinguish our chapter as visionary leaders and ambitious models for collegiate chapters nationwide.”
According to the SWE website, the OCS Gold Mission Award is awarded to SWE chapters that have contributed to SWE, the engineering community and their campuses. Penn State SWE has taken home this award for the past seven years because of its work in professional development, advocacy, diversity and inclusion — a representation of SWE’s national motto, “Advance, Aspire and Achieve.”
“Penn State SWE is always evolving to meet the needs of our members by leveraging new ideas into annual occurrences,” said Kelly Weikel, senior chemical engineering student and University affairs officer for Penn State SWE. “What sets us apart from other SWE chapters is our ability to offer a broader range of events — from service and outreach to THON and inclusion — by encouraging the creativity of our leadership team.”
Each year, SWE chooses the recipients for this award from an applicant pool of many SWE collegiate chapters from across the country.
“This year, our personal development director, Malaree Scott, senior civil engineering student, did a fantastic job compiling and writing all this information for the application,” Weikel said.
Penn State SWE also was recognized for excellence in “Best Practice” in the public policy category. This award was given in recognition of Penn State SWE’s newly established events, which included a workshop focused on sexual harassment and “He for SWE” events — a movement in the SWE community that aims to increase gender inclusivity by welcoming male allies into discussions on gender bias. Penn State SWE is open to all Penn State students who are interested in promoting a more inclusive engineering environment.
Other Penn State SWE inclusivity and diversity initiatives were recognized with this award, including members’ participation in events such as the Leaders in STEM Summit and the Diversity Scholarship Meeting.
"Becoming an engineer can be an uphill battle, so it’s important to find a community where you are not alone in your struggles,” Weikel said. “SWE offers the support, skills and events to uplift our fellow students and inspire the next generation of women engineers.”