MSET’s FTC team 6165 Cuttlefish integrates SWENext program as part of Robotics Club

March 31, 2022 — by Nidhi Mathihalli
SWENext club meets in order to discuss future opportunities for females with an interest in STEM
Sophomore Naomi Hsieh has created a new MSET Cuttlefish SWENext Club in order to include more females in the male-dominated Robotics Club

As sophomore Naomi Hsieh left the robotics room on a late Tuesday night, she said bye to all of her team members. However, looking back at the members, she realized that all of the team members in the room were male.

Although the club’s numbers have increased over the years, most are still boys. Hsieh pointed out that only 31.31% of the 99 MSET members, according to the signup forms conducted by the MSET mentors at the beginning of the robotics season. Instead of ignoring the problem, Hsieh created the MSET Cuttlefish SWENext Club in order to bolster involvement for women in STEM in fall 2022.

“We want to create an inclusive environment where [everyone], regardless of knowledge, background and skill, can build both soft and technical skills to prepare girls and students of all genders for future tech related careers,” Hsieh said.

The club is a branch of the SWE, an international organization that focuses on advocating for increased women involvement in engineering and technology. 

Currently, SWE mainly targets college students. However, after talking with 2021 alumni Riya Jain, a freshman at UC Berkeley who is involved in the university’s SWE club, Hsieh looked for ways to integrate SWE at the school, and founded SWENext.

SWENext is a way for students of all genders to become a part of the engineering community before college. “SWENexters” have access to programs, mentors and resources designed to develop leadership skills and self-confidence. These skills are aimed to help women succeed in engineering and technology careers, through events such as speaker series.

The club has been meeting through Zoom twice a month. During this time, the club hopes to explore many aspects of engineering through career opportunities, speaker series with college students and competitions. Hsieh added that one of the club’s primary goals is to expose both high school and middle school students to STEM and engineering through outreach events.

“We want to empower students to be advocates for peers, and younger girls and students of all genders,” Hsieh said. “In our club, we demonstrate the value of diversity, equity and inclusion. Most importantly, we want to create an inclusive environment where all, regardless of knowledge or background skill, can build both soft and technical skills.”

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