Inaugural Power of WiE - Women in Engineering Conference

Women in Engineering Reclaiming Pink!


“Once we accept our limits, [WiE] go beyond them!” – Albert Einstein. The inaugural Power of Women in Engineering conference was recently held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University. The WiE conference was developed to raise awareness about the growing need for and value of female engineers, inspire participants to seek and complete an engineering degree, and to build community among participants and industry supporters.  It was the first event of its kind at San Jose State.

This one-day professional development and community building event engaged 115 participants, including current SJSU students as well as prospective students from community colleges and high schools. Furthermore, 22 professional industry leaders eagerly volunteered their time to share their wisdom and experiences. The event provided participants with a variety of personal and professional development sessions, trends in tech talks, speakers, engineering panels and an opportunity to engage in discussions topics with peers, university faculty, staff and industry participants.

Participants engaging during one of the professional development sessions
Participants engaging during one of the professional development sessions.
Quotes from student participants:

“I learned that women are just as capable of becoming a successful engineer in the business world, as long as we are willing to work hard. I also learned of the awesome community women engineers are and hope to join more of these communities in the future!”

"The most valuable thing I acquired was knowing it is possible for me to succeed in engineering and meeting new girls that are in engineering."

“The connections I made as well as the information I learned from all of the speakers were the most valuable."


Dr. Stacey Gleixner, Chief of Staff at San Jose State University, provided participants with an inspiring kick-off speech. "You are going to be a great engineer because you are a woman," was at the heart of Gleixner's kick-off and it clicked well with the Reclaiming Pink theme. There is this misconception that women have to choose between a career or "being a women."  Reclaiming Pink was about raising awareness that you don't have to change what makes you unique or uniquely a women to be a successful engineers and in fact it is that uniqueness that makes each individual an asset to technology and innovation.

Key note speaker Punita Pandit Bigler, Co-Founder and Director of Operations at Equalia, discussed how she and her team were able to turn their senior design project into an automation company Animatics and fulfill the needs of engineers all over the world. Her message was inspiring and poignant, and described the struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated degree program, the positive influence of a female role model early in her academic career, and the impact of her mechanical engineering degree on the success of her roles in Animatics and Equalia.

Dr. Jinny Rhee, Associate Dean for the College of Engineering provided closing remarks at the end of this great event. “I am thrilled with our pilot conference, and especially to see such interest and active participation. Increasing participation of women in engineering and technology is a priority for industry, as well as an overall benefit to society through representation in problem-solving professions” said Rhee.

Participants listening to keynote speaker Punita Pandit Bigler from Equalia
Participants listening to keynote speaker Punita Pandit Bigler from Equalia.
Testimonial by Rosie Zepeda, Presenter:
"It was my pleasure to be a presenter at the inaugural SJSU Power of WIE this Saturday and experience the great impact it had on so many of the young women, many traveling from far to attend. I heard time and again how this conference was so different to anything else they had attended, because there was a feeling of safety. They also expressed how much they liked the combination of attendees from high school, community college, university and access to professionals. Specific to my workshops, attendees expressed how grateful they were to get guidance in advocating for themselves, learning how to communicate powerfully and getting comfortable with negotiation skills. I believe the success of this conference shows there is great need for this to be held every year."

Tech Trends Talks included: Culture Change Require to Implement Digital Tapestry, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Ultimate Appliance: Humanoid Robots, Engineering Innovation at Lockheed Martin, Internet of Things, LEED, Hardware Revolution, Culture of Connecting the World.

Professional and Personal Development Sessions discussed: Negotiation, Assertive Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Effective Communication, Intentionality & Leadership, Personality & Leadership, Women Leading in STEM, and Men as Advocates for Women.

This event was made possible by the generous funding support from the Mark and Carolyn Guidry Women in Engineering Program. Thank you to the industry presenters and panelists from Lockheed Martin, Intel, Facebook, ReyLabs, Turner Construction, and LinkedIn. The event coordinator was Blanca Sanchez Cruz, the Assistant Director of Student Success Programs, who also oversees the Minority Engineering Program in the College of Engineering. Heart-felt appreciation goes to all of our sponsors, panelists, presenters, alumnae, faculty, students, support staff and volunteer crews that made this event a great success.

All male volunteer crew from student clubs SOLES and MEP
Among the many volunteers was an all male volunteer crew from student clubs SOLES and MEP on hand to help out.