Although the Mercer Engineering Department is not exactly known for its overabundance of female engineers, you may be surprised to find out that Mercer has a relatively high number of women engineering students in comparison to other universities around the country. As of 2010, around 35 percent of students who graduated from Mercer with engineering Bachelor’s degrees were women.
This respectable female presence was evident at the October meeting of the Society of Women Engineers, or SWE, held last Friday, Oct. 5, in the Engineering Building. The half-hour discussion had no shortage of members, with 12 ladies in attendance, most of whom were eagerly making plans for future events while enjoying a nice assortment of doughnuts.
As Friday’s relaxed meeting demonstrates, this group of women are as interested in exciting events as they are in their academics. President Caitlyn Ryan explains that this organization “is about getting all the female engineers together for moral support. The older girls set an example for the newer ones, and we all like to have fun.”
Although these women are brought together on an academic basis, the focus of the organization is not necessarily rigorous and continuous study but discussing problems with each other and meeting people who can relate to their situation.
According to Ryan, SWE is also a really good opportunity for networking among engineering students, both male and female.
SWE’s monthly meetings are not the only time this group comes together. They participate in several of the Engineering Department’s events, such as the hot dog stand called “Swieners.”
SWE hosts its own events as well, including the event held last year called “Engineering Superheroes,” where middle school-aged girls in Macon came to visit Mercer engineering students, along with students from several other schools, and learn about what they do.
Unfortunately, SWE has held a few events in the past that proved to be unsuccessful. However, Ryan announced, this year SWE will be participating in some new, engaging activities that will hopefully be fun and entertaining for members and also bring more attention to the organization.
A few of these fun activities include a game of “Capture the Pumpkin” which will be open to the entire campus. “Capture the Pumpkin” is a social that involves either going to the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Zoo or the Georgia State Fair; and possibly some kind of event in support of Engineering Week later this school year.
It was obvious by the conversation in the Friday meeting that these events and activities are the kind of things these lady engineers were looking for when they joined this organization.
SWE is a great example of new and innovative developments throughout Mercer’s campus, as the Society was formed only four short years ago in order to give the female minority of Mercer engineering students some sort of an outlet and a haven.
Although SWE is primarily made up of female engineers at present, it is not exclusive. Both men and non-engineers can join as long as they encourage women and engineering. This group of supportive student peers is another shining example of one of Mercer’s greatest aspects – community and fellowship.
Ryan explains the importance of community support best, declaring: “We help each other out in SWE, and hopefully we’ll all graduate. Therefore, we benefit Mercer as a whole by improving the graduation rate.” Surely this is Mercer’s hope for all departments and everybody wins.