SWE wins Stilettos to Steeltoes contest for third straight year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the third year in a row, the Penn State chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) was named the grand prize winner in Schlumberger's From Stilettos to Steel Toes Essay Contest.

To enter, female engineering students from colleges across the country submitted essays explaining why a nontraditional job is the way to go. The essay prompt was "What will kick-start your career?"

Of the 26 universities that participated, Penn State dominated with 158 total entries, winning the grand prize of $2,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to the SWE national conference in Baltimore. Purdue University, the second place team, submitted 137 essays.

Schlumberger also selects section award winners to receive cash prizes. This year, the honors went to Karlie Drda, a sophomore planning to major in civil engineering; Katie Ciccaglione, a junior in mechanical engineering; and Rachel Perini, a sophomore in mechanical engineering.

Drda said her essay reflected on the role her dad, a civil engineer, played in helping her develop an interest in the field. She noted, "After a year of difficult engineering prerequisites, I was burned out and started to question my choice of major. My summer internship at PennDOT changed that. Seeing the construction of bridges and highway reconstructions helped me remember why I love engineering. My internship truly kick-started my career, because it helped me remember that even though I am taking difficult classes now, I will soon be able to do what I love."

Ciccaglione penned a similar experience. She explained, "My essay was about stepping out of my comfort zone during my summer internship as a drilling engineer with Shell Oil Company. I saw first-hand demonstrations of the tools we were utilizing while drilling wells. I also went offshore twice. The experience made me realize how exciting it is to pursue a hands-on engineering role, which is something I never really pictured myself doing."

Perini said she wasn't aware of the section awards, so winning something was a surprise. She added, "My essay explained how my sense of adventure will kick-start my career. It's what got me to Penn State, keeps me excited about engineering and leads me to all sorts of awesome new experiences."

Grace Warkulwiz, a junior in bioengineering and SWE's communications director, was nervous toward the end, because Penn State was trailing Purdue by quite a few essays. She gushed, "Penn State SWE is the best! We submitted a ton of essays towards the end and won!"

Warkulwiz said they will use some of the money to reward SWE members with free sweatshirts. "The girls are really excited about that!"

Schlumberger is the world's leading supplier of technology, integrated project management and information solutions to customers working in the oil and gas industry worldwide.

Last Updated May 12, 2016