Thursday, August 27, 2015

Society of Women Engineers (Catie Cowden, Treasurer)

*Snap!* Has it really already been three years? Am I really a senior already? It certainly doesn’t feel like it, but it’s true! Three years ago, I entered Purdue University as a freshman in First Year Engineering with the full intent to become a Biomedical Engineer and then pursue medical school. One semester of honors chemistry later, however, I realized that I wanted to look into my options a little more.
I had been paired with an upperclassman mentor from the Society of Women Engineers SWEetie Sidekick program, so I decided to get her opinion on the different opportunities at Purdue. She started my thinking on Industrial Engineering, and as I began attending more SWE events with her, I learned more about Mechanical, Electrical, and all other branches of engineering.
Throughout the year, I attended many more SWE events, and I started falling in love with the organization. There were pottery painting socials, intramural sports, community service events, and professional networking opportunities. I signed up to be an office assistant for one of the current SWE officers, and I got to work with her as she organized that semester’s Senior Sleepover (where high school seniors stay on campus for a weekend). 
I even had the opportunity to attend the Regional SWE Conference at the University of Minnesota. At this conference, I realized how far a connection with SWE could take me. As an international organization, my involvement with SWE could extend into my engineering career.  I spoke with women who had been involved with SWE for over thirty years, and I was able to learn more about their career paths and goals.

Through these resources, I realized that my choice in a major didn’t matter as much as my choice in a career. As someone who loves technology, I thought the idea of working with a large technology company sounded awesome. I started looking at which engineering majors would lead me to those careers. Finally, days before the deadline in March, I settled on Computer Engineering… a far leap from my original Biomedical intentions! 
Three years later, as I reflect on my journey at Purdue, I’m grateful that I found my way with SWE. As a sophomore, I joined the SWE executive board as the All-Member Meeting chair, and as a junior, I moved up to be Programs Director. Now, as the organization’s Treasurer, I manage the money that our executive board (of 44 individuals!) spends to make our events amazing and impact students like me! SWE has helped me grow so much as an engineer. Although I can’t quite believe it’s almost that time, I’m excited to graduate as a Computer Engineer and continue my involvement with SWE in my engineering career.
Want to know more about SWE? Join us at our Ice Cream Social this Sunday, August 30th, in the Earhart West Lobby from 6:30-8:30. Interested in joining SWE? Come to one of our callouts, September 2nd and 3rd, in ME 1130 at 7:30p. We hope to see you there!If you have any questions about SWE, feel free to email me at

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Student Spotlight: Niharika Chaubey, ChemE Grad

What made you decide to choose Purdue Engineering over other prestigious engineering universities?

I came to Purdue as a Biology major, honestly I did not have a lot of knowledge when I came here and chose a university that ranked well, and had an affordable tuition. Purdue fit into this category. I eventually transferred to Biological Engineering and Biochemistry in my second semester, which is ranked number one in the U.S. It was an easy decision then to stay at Purdue, since I was part of the best program offered in the country. Having studied this for two years, I finally transferred again to Chemical Engineering, due to higher job prospects. Unlike a lot of students, I did CODO a lot more but eventually ended up doing what I liked. 

What resources did you use to succeed in your studies while at Purdue? For example: professor’s office hours, tutoring, or maybe others.

I honestly studied a lot alone, but I did utilize office hours whenever needed. I never employed professional tutors, but did work in groups whenever something was harder than usual to finish.

How has your Purdue experience in engineering prepared you for your professional life?

Purdue Engineering I can safely say is one of the most grueling experiences. With all the weed out classes, and immense competition it was not easy to graduate with a good GPA, but smart and hard work pays. I feel like having gone through that, I am prepared to face the world. I would not be arrogant and say, I am absolutely ready, but I will say I am definitely ready for any challenges that might be thrown my way. 
As an international student, how hard was it for you to transition culturally to an American university? How did you ease your transition?

The peas in the pod theory really plays well for this question. I was lucky to find a good group of friends as soon as I started college. The transition itself was not too bad for me specifically, but I definitely had a few difficulties. Having friends really eased the entire process. It would be sometimes hard to understand the colloquial term, to be able to relate to jokes in a big setting especially when there were lots of natives. Eventually I just learned to ask and clarify what I did not understand without shame and that is what got me to actually ease into the culture.

What are some skills you wish you developed, as a student of engineering, which would have benefited you for your future?
I would love to develop more of my computer language skills, for some reason none of the departments I studied in forced us to take programming classes. I would also have liked to have language skills, but that I could not do due to time constraints.
What advice do you have for other international students pursuing internships and full-time employment?

To the international students who are pursuing internships and fulltime position, work hard because you will always have more to prove than domestic students. 

What advice do you have for potential or current international students pursuing an engineering degree?

I think the biggest advice would be make connections, make as many connections as you can. Enhance your skill set with computer languages, leadership, and other spoken languages. I would also suggest applying for internships and co-ops whenever you can; it’s never too early to apply. Also build a strong LinkedIn profile and USE it. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Researching at WMU

**This post was originally featured on
My name is Katherine Rothe, and I am a sophomore Computer Engineering Major at Purdue. This summer, I am working at Western Michigan University as a Research Assistant in the Speech Pathology Department. The great thing about b
eing a programmer is that there are lots of available fields to work in. The project I am working on is looking at middle ear contractions as a reaction to loud noises. I am programming many facets of the project, from data acquisition to analysis to essentially a video game for distraction purposes. It’s a very educational experience, because I get to work with a new programming language (MATLAB) and learn about the biology behind the middle ear contractions. I also get to learn how to measure muscle reactions, and do otoscopy (looking in the ear).

The great thing about having a research internship, especially at a university, is that it opens a lot of doors. The main thing that I get out of this internship is great experience: I work with different types of equipment, programming languages, and am becoming adept at things employers value, like data analysis and research. I also have a good measure of autonomy on my projects, which means I am told what to do and have a degree of freedom for the tasks.
Overall, the internship has been really fun and educational. It opens a lot of doors, as well, primarily experience which is important to employers.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Balancing Greek Life and Engineering

Hi, my name is Abi Lutes and I’m a third year Industrial Engineering student. I wanted to share my experiences in being an engineer and in a sorority. I am a sister of Phi Sigma Rho, a unique sorority. You have to be in Engineering or Engineering technology in order to join. It’s amazing being a part of this sorority because you are with a big group of women engineers! You always have someone in your classes to study with or sit by and you have plenty of older girls there for homework help.  The best part though is you still get everything that comes with any other sorority, the social and philanthropic aspects!

I personally had no interest in going Greek until a group of girls on my floor freshman year invited me to a callout for “the engineering sorority.” I had no real interest in joining but tagged along to the event just to check it out. That’s when I fell in love. I still remember the first girl I met in Phi Sigma Rho. Her conversation with me about the house and her sisters was so full of passion. I kept coming back to the events and when I toured the sorority house I made up my mind I wanted to join.

I love being in a sorority because there’s always someone willing to do homework, order burritos, or binge watch 5 episodes of Netflix with. I met some of my best friends in the world by joining this sorority. I bonded with my pledge class and was blessed with the best big in the world. The experience has been so rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I love my sisters and am so grateful to be a part of this organization.

Many people ask how we are able to manage our time. It’s simple, really. Your college experience is what you make of it. If you put in work and use your time wisely, you can do anything you want. My big in the sorority worked full-time at Subaru, took a full semester of classes, and held a position in our sorority all at once! Engineers are in the marching band, in Greek life, on student councils, on the gymnastics team, in the chess club. You name it, engineers can do it. And we have! Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from having a fulfilling and exciting college experience. You will have more free time than you think! Find your place here at Purdue and never look back.

**This post was originally featured on

Monday, August 10, 2015

Student Spotlight: Christina Rash, IE

**Originally featured on
My name is Christina Rash. I just finished my Sophomore year in Industrial Engineering and am looking forward to starting my Junioryear here at Purdue. I spent the past year as a Resident Assistant (RA) in Shreve Hall with Honors College Freshmen. I decided to continue my time as an RA over the summer. Being an RA has a lot of different roles. It means learning the balance between being a rule-enforcer as well as a confidante. On paper, an RA is someone who patrols the hallways enforcing quiet hours, hangs out in their room at certain hours, and fills out paperwork. It’s much more than that, though. The RA puts hours of thought, planning, and consideration into each bulletin board or bathroom newsletter. They take even more time to design door decorations. Along with all of these material things, an RA also puts an effort into each of their residents to ensure that they feel welcome in their hall.
While being an RA looks like a lot of work, I absolutely enjoy it. I see the work I do as an RA as a break from the rigorous coursework of my engineering classes. It also exposes me to a lot of different people. This job made me realize that I want to work in a place where I have a lot of exposure and interaction with people – and I am determined to make that happen.
Having a casual conversation in the hallway has very easily turned into a planning session for the next event for the entire floor. A conversation with a resident passing my room has turned into a meaningful conversation about what that resident is passionate about. It’s moments like these that can’t be organized ahead of time that I love this job. It gives me a rare connection to students on campus that I very well might not have met otherwise.
These are the reasons I became an RA. These are the reasons I chose to stay at Purdue for the summer.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Student Spotlight: Varsha Ganapathy, MSE

 Weathering through those First Internship Jitters

  Coming out of my last final this semester, I felt nothing but relief, excitement, and immense confidence; it was time to take on summer. This summer would be special as I was going to take that leap into adulthood by working at my first internship with a steel manufacturing company. It was going to be that initial taste into what life after college will be like and honestly, after that semester of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics, how hard could this really be?
        As I drove up to the main building on my first day of work, I was pumped. Ecstatic. Meeting the other interns and going through orientation only elevated my anticipation for what was to come.  The completion of our safely training marked the end of orientation and all of the interns were sent to their respective departments; I was stationed to work at the rolling mill where steel slabs and ingots are rolled out into flat plates. I tagged along my mentor as we attended the daily mill meeting, a meeting I would not forget. 
As the meeting commenced, I felt myself teleporting to another planet; abbreviations and numbers were thrown around and the phrases used seemed like a foreign language. My once in-the-clouds confidence began to follow an exponential decay even with all the side explanations from my mentor.  After the meeting, I made my way to my desk and that was when it all hit me. Was I really cut out for all this? I did not understand anything at that meeting even though a lot of it had to do with concepts I learn in my major.  What if I mess up, what will all these experienced engineers think of me?  I could not fathom the thought of becoming fluent in the language that was so casually spoken here. Just minutes after these thoughts I heard crashing against the roof in the form of a torrential downpour; to my mind at the time (which was in slight panic mode), this was a bad sign.
        Fast forward a month and these concerns took a turn for the better. By now I would have attended and spoken at numerous mill meetings, assisted with the completion of an important experiment, and was starting to understand all the abbreviations and common lingo used at the plant. I was given the freedom to go off on my own and figure out how each part of the mill fit in with the other and got to inspect defects on plates firsthand. I befriended the operators, asked them about their responsibilities and how they would go about resolving a certain situation; the operators spend the most time with the machines and plates, making them a wealth of knowledge and information for almost anything that happens at the plant.  Speaking with the engineers at the plant gave me insight into how a lot of the machinery worked and how specific delays or malfunctions can lead to different defects on the plates. 
That first month taught me a lot, but most importantly to ask questions, and a lot of them.Curiosity does not always kill the cat, it makes it more alert and observant of what is going on. I made sure to clear up any doubts I had at the start of my internship and it sure made the transition a lot easier. My curiosity often led to impromptu projects and allowed me to interact with a diverse group of individuals on an everyday basis. My opinions where always heard and sometimes challenged but it all contributed to the learning experience. I no longer doubt whether I can undertake a particular task because there is always a way to the solution and a person to talk to. My confidence level continues to rise a little every week and I am excited to see what the next month will hold and how much I will learn in that time. There may be another horrible thunderstorm again, but it will not bother me because I know I can get through it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Student Spotlight: Kitara Crain, EE

*This post was originally featured at:

Society of Women Engineers

My name is Kitara, and I am the current Secretary of the Purdue Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section, a widely decorated chapter of a worldwide organization that supports women in engineering. At Purdue, we are one of the largest organizations, comprised of 400+ general members and 40+ board members. On campus, SWE has a hand in many events from Industrial Roundtable (the fall job fair), minority inclusion events, outreach programs, intramural sports, the Grand Prix race, Homecoming float building, and so much more.
I started with SWE during my sophomore year as a general member and soon fell in love. After attending almost all of the events (and I mean 3 to 4 events per week), I decided to apply to be a board member and help plan the events for an organization that makes my life at Purdue so much fun. I became the Corporate Relations Chair and invited companies to speak to SWE members about developing their professionalism, then took a giant leap and became one of four officers.
With such a large organization that plans and participates in so many events, the four officers are pretty busy all through the summer and continuing into the school year. To begin with, SWE has 8 directorships that oversee different areas of the organization. I am so lucky to be able to work with Competition Teams & Outreach to plan everything from Grand Prix to inviting high school seniors to spend the night with Purdue students to competing in the Homecoming festivities. Within Competition Teams, we are working this summer to complete our Team Tech presentation we will be presenting at the annual SWE conference in October. We have worked the past year with ADM to build a filtration prototype the company can use in their plants and factories. Outreach is just as much fun! We are working to develop new activities to motivate elementary through high school students to pursue engineering.
Working with these directorships is not all the secretary does; I also plan the annual trip to the SWE conference, which will be held in Nashville, TN this year. We are taking 16 Purdue students to meet with other professional and collegiate members from around the world to grow our organization’s network and learn new ways to improve our SWE chapter.
Being secretary has been such an enjoyable role so far, and it’s only just started. I can’t wait for this year to begin! Shout out to the other officers and board members that are putting in so much of their time this summer to help the Purdue Society of Women Engineers be even more AWESOME!

If you want to learn more about what I do or how to get involved with Purdue SWE please email me ( I would love to hear from you!
For further information on Purdue SWE, visit their website: