Event Recap: Design Your World STEM Conference For Girls!


Dallas SWE’s 14th Design Your World STEM Conference for Girls was held on November 10, 2018 at Southern Methodist University! Tickets for the event sold out with the attendance of 120 middle school aged girls, in grades 6th-8th, spending the day learning about multiple industries where a STEM career can lead them.

This day would not have been possible without the multiple volunteers, parents, and educators that took time out of their day to be a part of this inspirational event.  Additionally, a special THANK YOU to our generous corporate sponsors: ExxonMobil (Platinum) and Lennox (Gold).   Finally, we would also like to acknowledge the resolute efforts of our event coordinators: Terriekka Cardenas (Dallas SWE VP of Outreach and DYW Event Chair), Amanda Alsbrook (Registration Chair), Shannon Cruise (Student Activities Chair), Teri Cate (logistics), Sandy Rolon (opening/closing ceremony), Thi Dao (Volunteer Coordinator), Kim Concillado (marketing and media), Rana Karimi (T-shirts), Zaineb Ahmad (Parent/Educator Track coordinator), Katia Gomez (planning committee), and Liz Hainey (fundraising/finance and food order).


You can find all of our event photos on our Facebook page album for this event! Below are a few of the highlights.

Opening Session

Sandy Rolon jump started the DYW event with an inspirational speech about working hard towards your goals and pursuing your career, whatever those may be! Subsequently, she held an ice breaker with all of the participants to get them excited about the day ahead of them.

Student Activities

We had a wonderful variety of activities for the students to choose from this year! The students broke into six groups, which rotated through three of the activities listed below during their day:

  • Biomedical Engineering – Sponsored by Accenture

Students simulated a blocked artery using clay and learned about the different technologies utilized in the medical industry to clear them.

  • Computer Science – Sponsored by Codestream Studios

Students were able to participate in app/web development by making their own webpage.  They also learned about the most influential women in computer science.

  • Electrical Engineering – Sponsored by Girls in STEM

Students designed and built their own circuits while learning about the basics of electrical engineering.  They were also given the opportunity to build small scale bridges and understand best practices for strengthening the structure.

  • Telecommunications – Sponsored by Fujitsu

Students learned how to send messages through Morse code and were able to decipher messages created by the instructors.

  • Mechanical/HVAC Engineering – Sponsored by Lennox

Students learned about the basics of HVAC by comparing the various components to the human body.  After a short presentation, they built the circuit for a thermometer using an Arduino.

  • Renewable Energy – Halliburton

Students learned about the principles of renewable energy and built salt water powered vehicles.

Parent & Educator Sessions

During the Design Your World STEM conference, three Parent-Educator panels were held: a young engineers session (Voices from the Field – What’s Really Out there?), an engineering collegiate session (What’s Next? Collegiates Share Their Paths), and an engineering campus tour, hosted by SMU engineering students. Each panel had content aimed for parents and educators to aid in their students’ STEM education and motivation.

The first panel allowed panelists to share their collegiate and early career experiences, as well as overcoming difficulties, surprising things, and any advice for the STEM students. The goal was to answer any questions that the parents had about their STEM students’ education and future career. Many of the panelists discussed their careers from their points of view as well as their support systems, hardships, and perseverance. The parents asked several questions about how the panelists handled the difficulties that came their way, how they motivated themselves, and what drove them to choose their fields.

The second panel consisted of collegiate SWE members in various engineering majors.  The objective of the panel was similar to first session, but the panelists spoke to their support system and schooling that got them to this point in their college career.  They also provided advice on college admissions, financing their educations, and finding internships.

The last session of the day gave parents and educators a view into engineering campus life, with a tour of the engineering school by current engineering students. The students were able to showcase their lives on campus, while providing the attendees more opportunities to ask questions and discuss their students’ futures.

The parents and educators that attended were very open and communicative about the needs of the STEM students and appreciated the panelists and the content that was focused on. They happily asked questions and participated in each of the panels.

Closing and Engineering Fashion Show

Sandy Rolon took the stage again to recognize participants that were the most involved with the activities during the day.  These students were brought up to the stage and rewarded a Bitsbox, which is a subscription box that teaches kids how to code!

To close the event in true Design Your World fashion, the volunteers and SWE members strutted their stuff on the catwalk, wearing apparel that is typical of their STEM job.  We had field engineers, design engineers, and even a nuclear physicist show off what they wear day-to-day on the job.

Impact Highlights

Here are a few highlights from our student evaluations:I enjoyed the HTML/CSS part.  I like coding, so it was fun to do some.

I liked how the volunteers made building and learning things fun.  I loved the salt water cells.

I liked all the events because I learned new things.

It was great.  I learned things that I did not know.  I want to come back!

I liked learning about Morse code and learning about STEM.  It helped me realize that we need more women in that field.

Save the Date – Spring 2016 Conference Announcement


The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Dallas Section and the University of North Texas University Student Section, are pleased to announce that our next Design Your World STEM Conference for 6th-12th grade girls will be held Saturday, April 2, 2016 at the University of North Texas Discovery Park! 

We are already preparing for another exciting day of learning and fun – stay tuned to our website and social media for upcoming announcements!

Join us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Opt-in to our Email Updates

Thank you to our Nov 2015 event sponsors!


As we continue planning for our November 14, 2015 Design Your World STEM Conference at SMU, we want to take a moment to thank our generous sponsors for this year. We could not offer this great event without your help! Thank you!!

Platinum Sponsors ($5,000+)


Gold Sponsors ($2,500 – $4,999)



Silver Sponsors ($1,000-$2,499)


Bronze Sponsors ($<1,000)

Event Recap: March 2015 Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls


This spring’s Design Your World-STEM Conference for Girls was an outstanding success!  Two events for the 2014-2015 fiscal year were generously supported by Exxon Mobil, Capital One, Pryor Packaging and an outreach award grant from SWE International.  The March 2015 DYW event was executed completely by volunteers and a new partnership with the Dallas Independent School District. Dallas SWE has been keen to expand access to this event after receiving feedback from local school teachers during a Sci-Girls workshop in January 2014.  They identified logistical challenges of metroplex travel and an increased need to reach out to newer regions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School

Dallas SWE reached out to Dallas ISD’s STEM Department Executive Director Oscar Alvanrenga and Director Crystal Alexander.  They identified Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School as the optimum facility for an event of this kind. Jane Didear of Dallas ISD Volunteer and Partnership Services provided additional assistance.  The SMU SWE student section, counseled by former Dallas SWE President Jennifer Vilbig, selected Kelly Howey to be the student Co-Chair to partner with professional Co-Chair and Dallas SWE VP of Outreach Nandika D’Souza. Lynn Mortensen, Co-Chair of the November 2014 Design Your World conference for 6-12th grade girls, continued her phenomenal volunteer recruitment efforts.  120 girls, 64 adults and 92 volunteers registered through Eventbrite, managed by DYW Webmaster and Registration Chair Shelley Stracener.

Upon arrival at Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School, students picked up a lavender-colored t-shirt and goody bag made possible by AT&T and Raytheon.  The opening session was held in the school’s auditorium with plenty of space for everyone. Meagan Pollock, Director of Professional Development for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) led the opening program communicating the excitement and limitless potential of STEM careers. She engaged the audience in a teamwork game engaging all their senses.  Kendria Johnson, a teacher at Zan Wesley Holmes Jr., then brought her nationally recognized STEM dance troup that highlighted the importance of personal value over peer pressure. Inspired, attendees then made their way to their STEM activities. Six activities were run in 3 sessions allowing each girl to experience the design paradigm for three engineering fields.

  • Mechanical Energy- Marshmallows and Spaghetti was led by Lori Wiltz Halliburton and Ophelie Herve, SMU-SWE
  • Computer Science- Fun with Alice was led by Mayaria Johnson, UNT-SWE and ACM-W
  • Biomedical: Clearing a Path the Heart was led by Cynthia Markbreiter and Mar McCreary    SMU-SWE
  • Chemical Engineering-Polymer Jewelry was led by Alicia D’Souza, STEMcess.com    and Andres Garcia-UNT Society of Plastics Engineers
  • Aerospace Engineering: Rocket Fun, was developed by Rachel Shepherd, SMU-SWE
  • Electrical Engineering: Lights, Sound, Action was led by the Women of AT&T Jennifer Gamboa-Haker and Arianna Santiago, SMU SWE

Dallas SWE continued the SWE Outreach Award winning Parent/Educator Panel sessions this year, chaired by Anita Pacheco. After the joint opening session, the parent/educator group convened in the auditorium. Amber Scheurer moderated a panel discussion, “Helping students prepare for a STEM career,” with Joey Jiang (Halliburton), Cherrie Fisher (AT&T), and Justa Trevino (Raytheon).  The panelists shared challenges they faced such as being the first in the family to go to college or having to learn English as a second language. They also discussed their experiences overcoming bias in the workplace and strategies they used to encourage their children in STEM.

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School is home to a nationally competitive underwater robotic team!  Students on the team demonstrated their robot for the group of adults and the team’s teacher sponsor, Michelle Thomas, shared her best practices for parents and educators to work with their schools to replicate their success.  Then parents and educators had time to connect with each other and professional engineers over lunch.

They reconvened in the auditorium for a panel called “My Engineering Life” moderated by Anita Pacheco (Oorvo, Inc). The panelists, recent engineering graduates, included Jennifer Vilbig (Vilbig & Associates, Amber Scheurer (Texas Instruments) and Shelley Stracener (Heads Up Technologies).  They talked about the impact of an engineering degree on their income level and financial independence, how they enjoyed working in teams, and how their work experiences were very team-focused. They highlighted this last point because engineering is often misunderstood as a reclusive job with little social interaction.  After the panel, Nandika D’Souza then went over the steps that are involved in college admissions using materials provided by Landon Ellison, Admissions Officer, Engineering, UNT. The adults found the session to be very rewarding in providing a road map to assist children.

As the end of the day drew near, students and volunteers moved back to the auditorium. Dallas SWE members elicited squeals of excitement as they put on an Engineering Fashion Show, displaying all the different careers and clothing an engineer uses in her everyday work!  Then, an AT&T-led high school robot team showed a design they created.  As children and adults filled out assessments and left, the excitement from attendees was unmistakable: engineering unleashes energy, ideas, and possibilities!

Engineering Fashoin Show!

Engineering Fashoin Show!

Volunteer organizations that supported the event included Women of AT&T, Halliburton and Abbott; student sections of UNT-Society of Plastics Engineers, UNT-Society of Women Engineers and UNT-ACM.

Visit our Facebook page for more great photos!

Check out these great videos from our day of fun and learning!
Video prepared by Student Co-Chair Kelly Howey
Dallas ISD Education Technology department’s video


~ Nandika D’Souza, PhD
Design Your World March 2015 Event Co-Chair

Info for Saturday’s Design Your World STEM Conference


We are so excited about another SOLD OUT Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls!  Registrants should get this information in email, but we’re sharing it here as well so you don’t miss it.

Thanks for registering for Design Your World on Saturday, March 28, 2015, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers Dallas and SMU sections with support from Dallas ISD.  The event will be held 8:30am to 3:30pm at:

 Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School
 2939 Saint Rita Drive
 Dallas, TX 75233 

Please park in the parking lot on the corner of Saint Rita and Saint David on the school grounds.  There is additional parking around the far east side of the grounds.  When you arrive, follow the signs to the Attendee Check-in table in the gray building towards St. Rita (west) with the large windows.

Boxed lunches (sandwiches and drinks) will be served for all attendees.  Unfortuantely we are not able to accommodate any special dietary restrictions.  If you have dietary restrictions, please arrange to provide your own meal.

The great majority of volunteers for this event are engineers, so be sure you and your students interact withthem throughout the day.  Be sure to like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for live updates during the event!  If you take photos, please share them with us on social media or email them to us at designyourworld.swe@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you Saturday for an exciting day of STEM learning and fun!

Shelley Stracener
Design Your World Webmaster and Registration Chair

Nov 1, 2014 Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls Event Recap


Our Fall Design Your World event at UTD was simply AMAZING!  The Dallas Society of Women Engineers in partnership with University of Texas at Dallas SWE hosted 130 middle school and high school students and 60 adults at UTD’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering.  They attended a variety of activities and speaker panels throughout the day.

Opening session: what a great group!

Opening session with Dr. Megan Pollock: what a great group!

Our opening Keynote Speaker was Dr. Megan Pollock, Director of Professional Development for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity. Design Your World has a logo inspired by a SWE webinar that bright colors are more likely to resonate with female audiences. Megan brought just that type of inspiration to the room. Her backdrop slides were filled with color, data to support engineering needs, big ideas, and a clear sense that girls would benefit from using their skills. Dallas SWE has embraced both traditional and non-traditional engineering careers and Megan highlighted that by connecting her electrical engineering work at Texas Instruments to her passion for bringing more people into engineering through a degree in engineering education.

One of the primary goals of the Design Your World Conference series is for students to meet and interact directly with women engineers, ask them questions, and learn what they do for a living.  This helps the girls translate the math and science they’re learning in school into what engineers really do for a living. Meeting a women engineer also helps them to picture themselves as future engineers! The great majority of activity facilitators and volunteers are women engineers, and students spent time with them during three of six available activity options:

  • Biomedical: Students started with a discussion on the various fields of biomedical engineering followed by a walk through of a biomedical lab.  They learned how different pieces of equipment are used for observing and testing of the human spine and implants. Participants then did their own testing by loading a bone with weight to learn about different bone fracture patterns.
  • Computer Science: Students learned about Computer Science and careers and had the opportunity to create their own 3D animated world using Alice Programming.
  • Electrical: Students learned what electrical engineers do and practiced their engineering skills by building a robot with a team. The girls then raced the robots and crowned a champion robot team!
  • Energy: After building their very own Salt Water Fuel Cell Car, students saw how the same ocean they swim in could be used to power their next vehicle!
  • Materials: Students learned the secret behind gold plating jewelry and walked away with their own gold plated trinket. They also saw a demonstration of the sensor technology in airport security scanners. Finally, they explored the design of tall structures by building their own Tall Towers
  • Mechanical: Teams of students built catapults from K’NEX parts, then tested how consistent their machine was by measuring the accuracy of where each projectile landed over multiple shots.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Parents and educators attended two panel discussions.  In the morning panel, Susanna Biancheri, AT&T outlined her motivations to make a case for value for STEM and how AT&T sees an increase in STEM professionals as a critical need. Anita Pacheco, TriQuint outlined her path from San Antonio to MIT and the support systems she had experienced along the way. Ronny Edinger outlined the experience of his daughter who had sought a Math teacher’s career and through father-daughter communication saw value in an engineering career. The panel elicited very positive conversation. There were a substantial number of educators in the audience which enabled a bi-directional dialogue on what works best for parents in the classroom. Biancheri outlined the clear irrevocable fact that a degree in engineering enables a career in many areas. The group also discussed positive and constructive ways to encourage and to partner with children as they evaluate their own education and career options.  After lunch, parents and educators went on a tour of the UTD campus.

The afternoon session panel included three recently graduated engineers. Each panelist introduced herself, recounted her paths to engineering, explained her work duties, and highlighted the value of SWE to her professional development. Shelley Stracener (electrical engineer at Heads Up Technologies) outlined the critical need for fiscal consciousness in college selection, the value of scholarships, as well as her exceptional academic record with a National Merit Scholarship to Baylor University. Brittnee Keller (mechanical engineer at Quorum Business Solutions) outlined her recent transition from Prairie View A&M into civil engineering and her work with Quorum business solutions. Britney Caldwell (graduate of UNT and now an electrical engineer at Brandt Companies) outlined the confidence that builds as ones career progresses and her ability to be valuable to multiple facets of the company. Attendees asked great questions! Key take-aways included the fact that engineering degrees are versatile, often overlap each other in terms of required courses (especially in the introductory years), and that one does not necessarily have to be a straight-A student to get into a successful engineering career. The panel also covered the importance of getting girls into hands-on activities and internships prior to and while in college, since these types of experiences are what employers like to see in entry-level candidates for full time positions. The parent panels were held in a large auditorium room, but It became clear in both panels that the atmosphere was more that of a small family room as conversations became frank and open, inspiring and constructive.

Our closing ceremony included our classic “Engineer Fashion Show” where attendees get to see some women engineers in their work “uniforms!”  Kathryn Schuck talked about her “bunny suit” that she wears in Texas Instruments‘ clean room to protect the devices she works on from dust and debris contamination.  Britney Caldwell talked about the safety vest, hard hat, and boots she wears to protect her on construction sites for Brandt. Shelley Stracener explained how her conductive smock and heel straps protect the products she works on from ESD (electrostatic discharge) and how she uses her LED magnifying goggles to work on small electronic components at Heads Up Technologies.


Engineering Fashion Show

You can find many more photos on our Facebook page! Please share your own photos from the event on our page as well!

Of course we could not have hosted this Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls without our generous sponsors: Exxon Mobile, Captial One, and Pryor Packing, Inc. Thank you!

We also want to issue a special thank you to all our wonderful volunteers from Dallas SWE, UTD SWE, Collin College SWE, Raytheon, the Women of AT&T group, and Halliburton’s Women Sharing Excellence group!  This Design Your World event could not have been a success without you!

We received excellent feedback from attendee surveys at the end of the day.  Students liked the brainstorming, liked being able to create and build things, liked being able to control the world in Alice, loved learning while doing and all the cool hands on activities.  Several mentioned that they made new friends. Adults enjoyed meeting and engaging with so many women engineers,  learning about the broad scope of engineering, and all the speakers and panels were praised. We also take attendee suggestions and opportunities for improvement very seriously for future events, so thank you to everyone who filled out a survey for us!

Our next Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls will be for 4th and 5th grade students and is tentatively scheduled for March 2015.  Stay tuned to this website, our Facebook page, and our Twitter for updates in the coming months!