Biomedical Student Finds SWEet Rewards

By: Diana Riggs
Date: March 23, 2018

SWE offers students something they can carry beyond college—community with a common purpose.

A group of 14 people pose in a hallway, smiling. Some are in UC gear

GE employees joined SWE members for Middle School Outreach

Morgan Beer, president of the University of Cincinnati (UC) section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), is grateful for the circle of mentorship that SWE brought to her life. Beer, a fifth-year biomedical engineering (BME) student, is poised to pass the torch to the next generation of engineers.

SWE is an international educational and service organization whose mission is to support women in achieving their full potential as engineers and leaders. For Beer, SWE creates opportunity in unexpected places. While on co-op at Boston Scientific a couple years ago in Spencer, Indiana, Beer was surprised and delighted to hear that company belonged to a professional SWE section.

When she heard that SWE members at Boston Scientific would have to travel 10 hours to their assigned regional conference, Beer arranged to have Boston Scientific’s section attend the regional conference hosted by UC just two hours away. Beer’s collegiality prompted Boston Scientific SWE members to invite her to participate in their events during her co-op.

Six smiling college students in matching blue polos stand in the UC Tangeman University Center

Beer (second from right) and Boston Scientific at the WE16 conference

After such positive experiences, Beer did not hesitate to promote the company to others at the SWE career fair. Later, Beer’s mentor at Boston Scientific recommended her for a new co-op capstone project they wanted to test. Beer feels fortunate for the fellowship that translate across barriers like age, academic discipline, location, and background.

As SWE president, she’s committed to offering members a variety of opportunities to access a broad network of support. Beer has hosted industry speakers from companies like Vantiv, Dow Chemical, Marathon and Kinectrics at SWE meetings. She arranged a talk by the American Heart Association about women’s heart health for American Heart Month (February). She’s coordinated events that connect UC members with other SWE groups, including the South Ohio professional section and the Cincinnati State affiliate.

Three young students stand together at a table, taping a long tube, participating in a building challenge

Students enjoy SWE science challenges on campus.

Beer most enjoys SWE’s regular outreach efforts to area schools. Every semester, SWE hosts events for local middle and high schools to promote STEM education through interactive challenges linked to STEM careers, like crime scene investigation mysteries and boat design experiments. Attendance at the outreach events have tripled since last year, thanks to SWE members who’ve built relationships with like-minded organizations.

Recently, the group has expanded their collaboration. They visited Lakota East High School to speak to a student group that supports women in engineering. Cincinnati Children’s Museum co-hosted a STEM event on campus. Beer also helps link local industry to STEM education: Vantiv sent a speaker to talk about STEM careers, and employees from General Electric’s Women in Operations group volunteered at a middle school outreach event in March. Beer hopes that these events help children make meaningful connections to STEM and encourage more women to consider a career in engineering.

Beer reflects on the mark she has made the past five years in SWE. Like members who guided her since she was a freshman, she now helps fellow SWE members with resumes, offers advice for career fairs, and encourages younger members to take on leadership roles within SWE.

A college student stands holding a water testing kit in front of a table of five middle school students, who are gathered around two cups of water for an experiment.

Middle school students test water samples at a SWE event.

Current and future generations of Bearcats meet at SWE’s annual spring banquet. Every year, women who will be incoming CEAS students are invited to write essays to compete for a $250 scholarship to the UC bookstore. Winners read their essays at the banquet, and Beer looks forward to hearing the responses to this year’s prompt: "How would I contribute and make a mark on society as an engineer?" Her involvement in SWE has come full circle, and she is eager see who will step up next.

Anyone is welcome to join SWE, regardless of their gender identity. For more information about SWE at UC, visit the UC SWE section website.