Sunday, October 17, 2010

Student Spotlight


My name is Sheetal Rajagopal, the first student blogger in hopefully what will be a long series of posts about Penn Engineering student life! I’m on AWE Advisory Board, the President of Penn SWE (Society of Women Engineers), and a junior in CBE (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering). This weekend, I was invited to speak in student panels for a Prospective Student Info Session and Family Weekend. Talking about what I’m involved in within the Penn Engineering community really made me think about how lucky I am to be in such an incredible place! Here at Penn, we’re surrounded by so many ambitious and down-to-earth students. It sounds cheesy, but I’m telling the truth!

A large proportion of these high-achieving Penn Engineering students are women like myself, thanks to programs like AWE Pre-Orientation. I did AWE Pre-Orientation myself as a pre-frosh, which not only helped me make friends in my class, but also introduced me to upperclassmen on SWE Board who encouraged me to get involved with SWE. One thing led to another, and somehow I wound up as SWE President this year! It’s really been a great year for SWE (again, that’s Society of Women Engineers). Since hosting the incredibly successful 2010 SWE Region E Conference on Penn’s campus this past spring for 56 collegiate sections and 13 professional sections within our region, we’ve been on an upward spiral! One of our proudest moments this year was winning $5300 in a Schlumberger Essay Contest for our section thanks to a very intense publicity campaign by SWE Board members and our incredible Faculty Advisor, Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker (who, FYI, was chosen by Popular Science as one of the Ten Brilliant Young Scientists to Watch Out For)!

What are we planning on doing with the money? Well, we’re still deciding how to thank the dedicated SWE members who submitted essays! SWE Board is also looking forward to going to the SWE National Conference in Orlando this November 4-6 using a portion of our award. This is going to be a great opportunity to understand the scope of SWE as an influential national organization and meet other female engineers from colleges across the nation. I can’t wait!

*If you want to hear more about SWE, check out the Penn Engineering Alumni Magazine issue coming out later this year.

That’s just a taste of what one female engineer at Penn is involved in! Outside of Engineering, I also sing in Counterparts Co-ed Jazz & Pop A Cappella, which was a great way for me to form long-lasting friendships with non-engineers, too. Stay tuned to hear more from other students!