Five Barrett Polytechnic students learn about engineering profession, make valuable connections at 2021 Society of Women Engineers Conference

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November 23, 2021

Five students from Barrett, The Honors College at the Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus attended seminars, made helpful professional connections and learned about careers at the 2021 Society of Women Engineers conference. 

The students received funding from Barrett, The Honors College to attend the conference, which was held October 21-21 in Indianapolis, IN. 

“I an extremely grateful to Barrett for providing the opportunity for me to connect with so many up-and-coming and established women in the field of engineering,” said Jessica Dirks, a senior studying robotics and human systems engineering. 

According to the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, only 20.9 percent of engineering bachelor’s degrees are earned by women. At ASU’s Polytechnic campus, 20.7 percent of Barrett’s engineering students are female. 

Networking and making connections were important components of the conference, which was aimed at strengthening the ranks of women studying engineering and professional women engineers. 

“At this conference, there were so many women who were more than willing to share their experiences. I really enjoyed networking and listening to all the advice they had to give,” Dirks said. 

Dirks met Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA, a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare, who was the keynote speaker at the conference. 

“She was an incredibly passionate advocate for aspiring engineers and left a lasting impression of what a good leader is and can be in the industry today,” Dirks said.

Whitney Foster, a Barrett senior studying mechanical systems engineering said she spoke with Humpton about her university experiences and excitement about working for Siemens. 

The conference was packed with seminars and lectures. Foster attended seminars that specifically focused on management and leadership. “It was fascinating to learn new methods on how to relate with my teammates and be a better leader for my senior capstone project,” she said.

Isabella Bushroe, a senior in Barrett studying engineering (mechanical engineering systems), attended talks focused on the perspectives of accomplished women engineers and networked to build professional connections. 

 “It was an exciting and valuable opportunity to network, and I enjoyed meeting so many amazing women doing what I want to do one day,” Bushroe said. “Besides networking with members of industry, I enjoyed connecting with peers who are having similar experiences as me.”

She also attended the career fair that was part of the conference to glean information about the job market that will be helpful to her as she seeks to start work as a mechanical engineer after graduation next spring. 

“I'm so grateful that Barrett's funding and support allowed me to attend this conference because I never would have gone to something like this without it,” Bushroe said.

Nahlia Morris

Nahlia Morris, a first-year Barrett student studying engineering (robotics), made it her goal to network as much as she could at the conference, especially at the career fair.  

“I wanted to attend this conference to try to make as many connections as possible,” she said. 

“From this conference I was able to speak with the company I was highly thinking about working with and obtain valuable information to help me get into this company as smoothly as possible.”

Senior Barrett student Nikki Van Handel, an engineering (mechanical systems engineering) major, also attended the conference with support from Barrett.

Story by Barrett, The Honors College student Alex Marie Solomon.

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