2019 Women in Engineering Conference Informs and Empowers

SJSU president speaks to full room of students

SJSU president Mary Papazian spoke to a sea of college women, and a handful of college men, across a ballroom blooming with orchids. "'Design Your Future' is truly the perfect theme for this conference," she said, "though if I am being picky, I might have suggested 'Design Our Future.' Because that is what you are doing – designing all of our futures: the future of your communities, the future of this country, and the future of the world around us."

Within a twelve-hour day packed with three keynotes and 22 break-out sessions, students were able to study emerging thought about climate change, 3D printing, the ramifications of 5G technology -- and they also had opportunities to work on their professional development. Perhaps most important, they observed and absorbed as a hundred female leaders in industry modelled what it is like to be a professional engineer. Students listened to career stories, and were able to meet and network with some of the panelists. 

Advice from the technologists ranged from sweeping visions to practical details. "In the next ten years there will be more change than in all of history," said GM and Global Head of Automotive & High Value Applications, 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing at HP Inc., Michelle Bockman. "One out of three of our current white collar jobs will not exist in 2025, but I see this as more of an opportunity than a threat." She discussed how disruptive technology such as 3D printing is changing the dental industry, and how self-driving cars can be outfitted with offices and will thus disrupt business buildings -- and the trucking industry, roads, and towns -- as we know them. She advised the students to be ready to seize opportunities.

Some advice regarding careers was immediately applicable: "Vision without execution is hallucination," warned Sonar Thekdi, vice president of business operations, IoT, at Cisco. "Hope is not a strategy, so have a plan on how you are going to execute your vision."

The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering would like to thank Conference Chair (and former Dean of the College of Engineering), Professor Belle Wei and to her teams of volunteers for producing another excellent conference. Deep gratitude also to the many sponsors of this year's event. Find details about the event and its sponsors here.