Penn State SWE wins highest possible collegiate recognition four years in a row

Elena Gowdy, treasurer, and Maddy Bungard, special events director, coordinated and managed the 28 Penn State SWE members’ attendance at this years’ WE17 conference in Austin, Texas. Credit: Penn State SWEAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Society of Women Engineers (SWE) won their fourth consecutive Outstanding Collegiate Section Gold Collegiate Mission Award, the highest possible collegiate recognition, at WE17, the world’s largest conference for women engineers, held Oct. 26-28 in Austin, Texas.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment, given the incredibly high standards and fierce national competition to recognize measurable year-long impact,” said Cheryl Knobloch, director of the Penn State Women in Engineering Program and Penn State SWE chapter counselor. “Penn State SWE members epitomize the attributes of a world-class engineer. They consistently commit to excellence and creatively generate innovative programming to advance their engineering peers and enrich our College of Engineering. Their well-deserved recognition distinguishes them as visionary leaders and models for collegiate SWE chapters nationwide. We are very proud of their accomplishments.”

The award is earned through the submission of an extensive application, which was compiled and submitted over the summer by Penn State SWE External Relations Director Sneha Srinivasan. The application includes information about leadership, membership, social media presence and the success, achievement and impact throughout the year of its many service, outreach, professional development and social events.

In addition, Penn State SWE was also recognized at WE17 as a "Best Practice" for other collegiate sections to follow in two categories: Outreach and Communication.

“Penn State SWE’s continual success is attributed to the dedicated leadership team members who prioritize improving our membership, retention, engagement, events and organization as a whole,” said Katie Connell, mechanical engineering senior and president of Penn State SWE. “We are also fortunate enough to have strong support and guidance from our faculty advisers and the College of Engineering who make it possible to accomplish our goals.”

Last year, Penn State SWE hosted more than 100 events, with the biggest accomplishments from the past year including:

  • The SWE Stayover, where prospective Penn State engineering female students visited and engaged with current members, resulting in 80 percent of the participants choosing to attend Penn State for engineering.
  • Coordination of the Engineering Career Fair, where more than 2,500 student participants networked with more than 125 employers for internships, co-ops or full-time positions.
  • Completion of more than 200 hours of community service and more than 75 donations to the community through its many service events during the year.
  • Benefiting THON by raising $22,000 toward the Four Diamonds Fund for pediatric cancer treatment, research and family support.

“SWE is an organization that develops you into the strong, passionate leader you’ve always wanted to be,” said Elizabeth Gasparich, secretary of Penn State SWE. “We have so many opportunities for our members to participate in events and really find their passion so that they can become our future leaders. Winning these awards really showcases how much we hold ourselves to a higher standard, so that our members leave Penn State with experiences that will shape their futures.”

SWE is a national organization comprised of both student and professional members, with the mission to “stimulate women to achieve as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.” Penn State SWE was founded in 1975 and has grown to become the largest and most active engineering organization on campus, with more than 250 members. Learn more at

Last Updated November 30, 2017