EVN – Koc University Society Womens Engineers Club (KUSWE)
The ACM-W Europe EVN members are actively engaged in a number of societies working towards empowering women in computer science and engineering. In this brief blog post, members from KUSWE (Koç University Society Women Engineers Club) talk about their ongoing activities and fruitful collaborations with ACM-W Europe.
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a non-profit social organization that provides education and community service, was founded in the United States in 1950. SWE supports female engineers to become successful leaders and engineers in their careers and provides them with the necessary opportunities. In addition, SWE aims to introduce girls to science and encourages them to pursue STEM-related careers.
Koç University Society Women Engineers Club (KUSWE) was established in November 2010 and made KUSWE the first student community of SWE outside of the United States. As KUSWE, our mission is to make female students love engineering and STEM fields with a vision to emphasize that differences add value to us. We aim to provide our members with the necessary assistance and training to become better engineers and scientists in their future careers while supporting all gender equality movements around the world, especially in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). KUSWE encourages women to reach their highest potential in their careers as engineers and leaders and spreads the idea that the engineering profession is a positive force that improves the quality of life and demonstrates the value of diversity.
Every year, we organize different events and programs to inspire high school girls to pursue STEM fields and to support university students and women professionals in their careers. In these events, we also collaborate with KU ACM and ACM-W student chapters to reach out to several high school students all over the country. In fact, we have student members that work in both KUSWE and KU ACM.
One of the high school focused events is our eight-week-long Girls Who Code event. We, as the Koç University Society of Women Engineers Club, have been teaching coding to successful female students selected from the schools near our university since 2018. Students are usually chosen from schools with limited opportunities, especially for coding or engineering-related activities and classes. At the end of the program, certificates are given to the students who successfully complete the program with our hopes to have encouraged them towards believing in themselves and choosing their own career paths including engineering and STEM fields. In 2020, Girls Who Code was awarded the Outstanding Outreach Award by SWE, becoming one of the most successful projects of KUSWE. This year, for the first time, we held our Girls Who Code program online due to the pandemic. Although the courses were online and students were not able to get the opportunity to visit and get their hands on advanced computers, we were still happy to spark students’ curiosity in engineering and STEM fields.
As KUSWE, we have also been organizing another STEM event, “SWENext”, for female high school students since 2016. With this event, we aim to introduce engineering to them, encourage them to become engineers and show the importance of STEM within one day. This year, we held our event online with the participation of 250 students from all over Turkey. Students participated in virtual laboratory tours and had the chance to listen to introductory lectures in engineering and STEM fields specifically prepared by KU professors. In SWENext, the Computer Engineering lecture was presented by Professor Öznur Özkasap, who is a faculty at the Department of Computer Engineering, ACM EVN (European Volunteers Network) national representative, and the vice-chair of ACM-W Ankara Professional Chapter. The lecture has attracted the interest of several high school students across the country.
With other events such as Networking Event and Career Station geared towards university students, as KUSWE, we work hard to get professionals and students together to help them find their passion and learn from the experienced women in their professions, and through collaborations such as with ACM-W Europe.