The latest round of FY21 grant applications from the Program Development Grants Committee (PDG) is expected on February 15e, so be sure to submit your application today! For more information on the grant process, as well as some recent changes to what CEOs will fund due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, please see the CEO website.
Submit your CEO request before February 15, 2021.
There are new challenges associated with hosting section events during the current pandemic. SWE Sections have found innovative ways to connect members and inspire young people on virtual platforms. Here is an example of a SWE section that transformed an outreach event that was typically held in person to follow new public safety guidelines.
The in-person Mystery Design event aimed to inspire college girls about the importance of STEM in their educational and professional lives. The University of Central Florida (UCF) SWE Section hosted an outreach event in November 2017 on the UCF campus. 110 students from local schools participated as well as 30 volunteers from SWE. The six-hour event consisted of a series of 50-minute activities, including:
- A workshop on the basics of circuits using conductive plasticine to build their own circuits that power an LED bulb.
- A workshop on optics through the waves.
- A workshop using biomaterials to encapsulate therapeutics by encapsulating flakes using alginate (derived from algae) and calcium chloride.
- Lunch for the participants.
- A roundtable where participants learned from professional women in STEM fields.
- A mystery design team egg drop challenge.
In October 2020, the UCF SWE section gave a virtual twist to the awareness event it had previously hosted. 22 students from local schools and 17 SWE volunteers participated via YouTube live stream. Kits containing materials and instructions live on YouTube were provided for students and their parents to follow the workshops. The two-hour event consisted of a series of 30-minute activities including:
- A lip balm manufacturing workshop to demonstrate the concepts of chemical engineering and commercial engineering.
- A workshop for making a bridge with gums and teeth to demonstrate civil engineering, physics and materials.
- A ping-pong launcher workshop to demonstrate projectile movement and kinematics.
Here are some lessons learned that the section offers at similar events:
- Focus on outreach activities to keep participants engaged.
- Connecting with parents can be difficult via email. Consider using several forms of communication such as creating groups or events on Facebook.
- Use smaller meeting rooms once participants have started the experiments so that they can collaborate with other participants and a SWE volunteer.
- Schedule time for equipment setup, virtual platform registration, sending reminder emails to attendees, and posting reminders on social media before starting the live activity .
- Include the costs of sending participant activity and video conferencing supplies into your budget.
Next, let’s see how other traditionally in-person events can be translated into a virtual platform. In April 2019, the SWE section of the University of California at Berkeley hosted a one-day event aimed at creating a dialogue on gender equality and inclusion in STEM and teaching undergraduate women in engineering communication skills in key areas of diversity and inclusion for the school and workplace. . The event included 5 45-minute in-person workshop activities on: Intersectional Feminism, Myth-Free Gender Inequality, Tackling Impostor Syndrome, Mentorship Lunch and #IAmRemarkable.
Here’s how the CEO committee recommends potentially translating this event into a virtual platform:
- Start with a presentation or panel on these topics, then set up breakout rooms for small group discussions.
- Come back together at the end to give summaries or takeaways and then any additional resources available for future support and continued development.
- The mentoring lunch in particular would require pre-registration and organization, but could be changed depending on the availability of different resources / options.
- This summit could also be broken down into individual activities offered on different days as part of a development series for easier programming.
Other things to think about:
- Virtual events shift effort and cost to pre-planning – more advertising opportunities for initial communications and reminders, more pre-event discussions to ensure coordinators are in sync and unforeseen events are addressed . Don’t forget about technical considerations, such as clear login instructions, a platform that can handle event goals, and equipment / expertise to make the experience smooth
- Virtual platform events also provide a way to extend the section’s influence to new communities and students. They are a great way to initiate collaboration with other related groups: âBy collaborating with other cultural and identity groups on campus as part of our ‘Intersectional Feminism in STEM’ workshop, our SWE members were able to recognize diverse perspectives and promote an inclusive community beyond our organization. “
Submit your CEO request before February 15, 2021.