DAHLGREN, Va. – Conferences and conventions facilitate networking and professional development. However, great conferences are those that inspire their attendees. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Conference 2021 set out to do just that. Four engineers from Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) attended the conference Oct. 21-23.
The 2021 conference was the first year NSWCDD sent employees to learn and network with other successful women engineers. NSWCDD has sponsored the SWE since July 2021.
“Outstanding leaders continuously capitalize on opportunities to grow and learn,” said Karen Smith, NSWCDD Deputy Chief Technology Officer. “Organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers enable employees the opportunity to network, grow professionally and continue to learn through conferences such as this one. The NSWC Dahlgren Division Corporate sponsorship will continue enabling opportunities such as these to our workforce.”
NSWCDD sent two of its women engineers directly to the conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Two more engineers attended the event virtually. Houra Rais – an engineer in NSWCDD’s Weapons Control and Integration Department – was one of the virtual attendees. Despite attending the event by way of computer screen, Rais nevertheless says she left the event feeling eager to inspire others.
“I am going to use this as a way to get more involved with SWE and perhaps do more mentoring with the younger women engineers that are just entering the job market,” Rais explained. “It was especially amazing to see how these outstanding women in all stages of their lives are balancing their careers, family and their continuous learning efforts.”
Kaitlyn Bub – an engineer in the Readiness and Training Systems Department – is one of two NSWCDD engineers who traveled to Indiana for the conference. Bub is a long-standing proponent of SWE’s mission, serving as a SWE member since she was in college. Though, this year was the first year she was able to attend the annual conference in person.
“I got a lot out of the sessions and it made me feel proud to be an engineer,” Bub remarked. “Every session had really great topics. This year’s theme was ‘aspire to inspire’ and I definitely left feeling inspired and wanting to encourage others to pursue a STEM degree because it is worthwhile.”
Each day of the three-day event was jam-packed with overlapping forums, presentations and panels. From professional development and mentorship seminars to presentations on environmental and biomedical engineering, attendees had the difficult task of choosing which seminars to attend.
Luckily, Bub explained that all attendees have access to the virtual sessions of the SWE conference for about three months after the event.
“There are definitely some sessions I missed that I want to go back and watch online,” said Bub. “And even some I think I may watch again.”