Q+A: A chat with the president of SWE


Hannah Davis

SWE President Nicole Amon

Vandy Manyeh, News Editor

Nicole Amon is the president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter at College of DuPage (COD). What is the club all about? How is the club creating an inclusive environment in engineering disciplines? SWE President Nicole Amon had a chat with the Courier:

Vandy Manyeh: What inspired you to study engineering at COD?

Nicole Amon: I was inspired to study engineering when I was in 8th grade. I attended an event called “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). I really enjoyed the hands-on building activities we did, and this encouraged me to study engineering. I had known about COD from a few friends who were attending for engineering, and my sister encouraged me to go to COD instead of Purdue University, the school I was going to attend. After I graduated from high school, I made the quick decision to study engineering at COD, and this may have been my best decision so far.

VM: What is SWE at COD all about?

NA: SWE at COD is a group where we share ideas, work together on projects and expand our knowledge of engineering. Our activities include STEM outreach and technical projects we pick up to develop our skills as engineers. We are a very supportive group here to help each other out and encourage individual academic and career growth.

VM: Why should I join SWE?

NA: All students are welcome to join SWE. Although the title says “Society of Women Engineers,” we are an inclusive group and have both male and female members. For women who join, there are added benefits because you have the ability to join SWE globally. This is a membership that you pay for which gives you connections to go to the SWE regional conference and meet several engineers and speakers. It is also very beneficial to join because there are several scholarships you become eligible for. Also, I think SWE is great because we try to work on things that different people are interested in. While we have our main projects and events we do every year, we are always picking up small newer projects every semester. Because SWE is a smaller group, students also have the opportunity to gain leadership roles fairly quickly in their time at COD if they are interested. In my experience, I was treasurer my first semester at COD, and this is now my third semester as president. This is a great chance for students to gain leadership experience.

VM:  What are some of SWE’s ongoing initiatives/projects?

NA: SWE has been working on a QuarkNet Radio Telescope project with Fermilab. We have been working on programming a Raspberry Pi to track voltage over time with a car battery and intend to later be able to hook this up to the actual radio telescope. We are working on integrating a solar panel and a battery. The solar panel will charge the battery. In addition, we are also building a voltage monitor that will keep track of the battery voltage and ensure that charging is taking place. SWE is also working on a Girl Scouts Badge Day with a couple local troops. This day will include s16 third grade girls and one first grade girl. We will be helping these girls learn about programming and program a robot to complete their Programming a Robot Badge. SWE held its first Networking Night last April, and we will be hosting another one this April. This night gives students the opportunity to talk to professionals, ask questions and get career advice. We will be inviting scientists and engineers from Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab and several local industries. This helps students develop their networking skills and gives them the opportunity to even possibly get an internship. At STEMcon, SWE has a booth, and this year we are making flashlights. We always use STEMcon as an opportunity for kids to make something of their own and learn a little bit about engineering. It is always awesome to see kids amazed at what they are able to do with just a few materials.

VM: What opportunities are available to students pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field at COD?

NA: Students pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field at COD have opportunities such as SWE and other STEM-related clubs to gain more experience in engineering. Also, the internship opportunities are great because two national labs, Argonne and Fermilab, are right near COD, and the professors here work very hard to get students opportunities for internships. Students have the opportunity to get internships through the Community College Internship, Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship and applying directly to the labs for different research internships. I think COD does a great job for internship opportunities for its students.

@argonne on Twitter
Nicole Amon (second from left) at a recent Girl to Engineering Day (IGED) at ANL

VM: What are your long-term goals as an aspiring engineer?

NA: Long-term, I know I would like to continue my education and eventually get my Ph.D. I currently have an internship at Argonne, and this had made me interested in research as I advance in my career. The research done at Argonne is amazing, and I would love to be a part of it once I graduate. At the end of the day, I want to change the world, and I know there is tons of research that can be done to do so.