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.

Nov 14 Event – Address and Parking Information


It’s almost here! We’re ready to welcome you to Southern Methodist University on November 14, 2015 for our Fall Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls. But first, some housekeeping items for you all to make sure you join us in the right place and on time!

First, if you bought your tickets months ago and are now unable to join us, please let us know via email or through your Eventbrite email confirmation. Although we cannot offer refunds at this time (t-shirts and activity materials have already been purchased!) your cancellation information will allow us to welcome another student to attend in your place!

Remember, this year ALL STUDENTS NEED TO BRING THEIR OWN SACK LUNCH! This will ensure that everyone gets what they want to eat that day. Box lunches will be provided for adults and volunteers, but we are unable to accommodate any dietary restrictions so if you need a special menu please bring your own lunch as well.

Now, parking logistics. Registration and our opening session, and closing session will be held in Caruth Hall at 3145 Dyer St, Dallas, TX 75205. Some activity sessions will take place in the nearby Embry and Junkins Engineering Buildings. We have secured free parking in a lot just northeast of these buildings (see photo below). There will be signs directing you from the parking lot to check in. Please carpool if you can: this lot is open season on the weekends and we’d really like to have everyone park for free if possible! If we run out of parking in that lot, your backup plan will be to park in one of several paid parking garages on SMU campus: Moody and Binkley are the closest to our DYW buildings, to the southeast along Binkley Ave and Airline Rd. Click here to see a full map of campus.


The great majority of volunteers for this event are engineers, so be sure you and your students interact with them 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 next Saturday, November 14! Bring your smiles and enthusiasm for this exciting day of STEM learning and fun!

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



The October 19th Design Your World – STEM Conference at SMU is SOLD OUT!

We plan to have more events in the future, please sign up for our Parents/Educators e-mail list to get notified when registration opens.

We are so excited to have 120 girls join us for a day of activities, speakers, lab tours and meeting real engineers and college students!

Please join me in giving a HUGE THANK YOU to all the volunteering who are working to make this an event to remember! You can learn more about them on the 2013 Conference Chair tab under Contact Us.

Questions? Shoot us an e-mail designyourworld.swe@gmail.com.



Register TODAY!


We launched registration for the October 19th Design Your World STEM Conference at Southern Methodist University! Click the Registration button to the right for more information about the event or registrer now via Eventbrite.


We hope you can join us! If you can’t make it, be sure to sign up for our e-mail list.

If you’re already on our e-mail list look out for a newsletter in the next week with information about registration for the upcoming conference as well as other awesome STEM resources for all age levels!