Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Five Year Anniversary to AWE!

Five years ago today I walked into the School of Engineering and Applied Science here at Penn for the first time to start the Advancing Women in Engineering (AWE) program.  I'll admit I was nervous, excited and completely unsure of what was waiting for me.  The first days of AWE were filled with a head spinning array of meetings, ideas and research.  What were other schools doing?  How should I be spending my time?  What were our priorities?  While I had started initiatives and events before, never on this scale had I tried to build something from the ground up.  I was excited to plan something for the future and spent much of those early months talking with students, faculty and staff about what they thought AWE should be.

Since then I am proud to say that AWE offers over 40 programs a year including social and academic programs for current students, outreach to middle school and high school students, trainings for teachers and guidance counselors, and events for prospective students.  Just looking at my calendar for today is a testament to how far we have come - over the course of the day I will meet with a prospective woman engineer, talk over plans for the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference with 2 of the 10 students we're taking to the conference this year, serve as the walk-in advisor for students, and talk to an alum about her plans for the future.  Its all in a day's work now of AWE! 

Sometimes in the day to day of keeping up with e-mail, returning phone calls, planning programs, and going to meetings its easy to forget how far we have come since Oct 1, 2007.  I recently had lunch with 2 alums who were some of the first students I met when AWE started and got to hear about all the amazing things they are doing at their engineering jobs today.  Both of them talked about being one of only a few women in their roles and how much they miss the women engineering community we were able to create here at Penn.  It was a great reminder to me how important a program like AWE is and how proud I am to be part of it.

So happy fifth anniversary AWE!  May there be many more in the future!

Michele Grab is the Director of the Advancing Women in Engineering program.  Contact her at for more information about AWE.

1 comment:

  1. Engineering has been one of the most exciting fields to enter for several decades now. Perhaps more than any other industry, field or time in history, during this time in computer hardware engineering there has been more advancement and evolution than ever before or anywhere else. Visit our website for more details.