The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) hosted its annual Women Impacting Style in Engineering (WISE) event on April 6, opening the doors of LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center to more than 150 women engineering students and industry representatives.
At check-in, corporate sponsors and industry representatives were given small gifts as a token of appreciation for their participation. They were then escorted to the room in which the networking event took place.
Site optimization supervisor Natika Anderson represented Total S.A., a French multinational integrated oil and gas company, during the networking event. Her fifth time at WISE and 16th year with Total, Anderson said that she was first drawn to the event because a colleague was unable to attend and asked her to go in their place.
Anderson, an LSU alum herself, said that she often gets questions about what her company does and what locations an employee could work in, as Total S.A. is a global company. She also said that she gives young women quick pieces of advice about how to operate in the engineering world.
“I always tell girls to ask questions, and not to be afraid of doing so,” she said. “In school, I learned a lot of theory, but didn’t have much actual practice. So, I often encountered some tools for the very first time at my job. It’s okay to just ask someone about it.”
The WISE event, sponsored by Halliburton, Chevron and Westlake Chemical, featured a dinner and style show after the networking segment, as in previous years.
The style show featured looks that were appropriate for the office, a site visit and even a corporate tailgating event. STEP Coordinator for the College of Engineering, Adrienne Steele gave descriptions of each models’ outfit, pointing out details like proper fits and colors for each category.
Each year, the event includes a theme aimed at topics integral to young women entering the field of engineering. This year’s theme was “Glass Half Full.”
Halliburton’s Katie Miller, the event’s keynote speaker, opened her speech by remarking, “In almost nine years at Halliburton, I’ve had six job titles.” She started as an associate technical professional and is now the global product manager for cementing.
“Each title came with different challenges and each challenge came with the opportunity to see the glass half-full,” Miller said.
During her speech, she encouraged the banquet hall of young women to “strike out on their own,” and expand their horizons to opportunities that may not be close to home.
“Baton Rouge has a lot of opportunities,” she said. “But the world has more.”
Miller continued by imploring women to change their perspectives when viewing their situations, adjusting it to see an opportunity rather than a challenge. She recounted a time when she was on an offshore job and crushed her hand under a pipe. Her hand has since healed, and she said that the positive take away from that situation is how it made her more vigilant in regards to safety at work and at home.
As she closed her speech, Miller looked out to the crowd once more and said that when she looked out into the audience of engineering students, she saw opportunity rather than challenges.
“I await to see the positives of what may appear to be an uphill battle. Everyone here tonight has the opportunity to impact in multiple ways. Not only by continuing the education paths that are currently being pursued, but also by reaching out to young girls who need encouragement and a good example to follow,” she said.
“Whether you realize it or not,” Miller said, “There is a young girl that looks up to you, and you want them to benefit from your example. Be the glass half full for someone else— a friend, a cousin, a niece, or a young girl that’s lucky enough to know you. Show them that women do belong in science and can impact the world.”
SWE President Cara Oliver closed the event with gratitude toward the guests and participants, and encouraged them to attend next year. She remarked on the statement of “seeing opportunities instead of challenges,” from Miller’s speech and said, “That is what SWE is all about.”
Oliver said rather than shrinking from the fact that engineering is a male-dominated field, they use the matter as an opportunity to encourage young girls to enter the field and host events like WISE.
Article written by M.B. Humphrey, communications assistant.