The newly-created Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Club is certainly off to a great start after receiving official recognition from an international organization. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has accepted the Essex County College club’s application for an Affiliate.


The Affiliate notification to the College was on February 5 from SWE Executive Director Karen Horting. SWE was founded in 1950 and is based in Chicago. The website states that SWE “gives women a unique place and voice within the engineering industry.”


“This is a great achievement,” said Loretta Amaral, a Mechanical Engineering major and president of the fledgling club. “There were moments where I thought we would not be able to complete the application. But with the hard work of our advisors and members, we made it!”


Dr. Dmitriy Kalantarov, chair of the College’s Division of Mathematics, Engineering Technologies & Computer Sciences, sees a wide spectrum of opportunities for Essex students through the affiliation. “SWE is an international organization and this will give Essex major visibility. We look forward to having SWE professionals come to the College to meet and mentor our bright students. This accomplishment is the beginning of a new era for our faculty and students.”


Similar sentiments were expressed by club advisor Ines Figueiras, a professor of Mathematics. “We know that a SWE Affiliation at Essex County College will benefit our students significantly.  We are very proud of our students in the Women in STEM Club, and especially the club’s president who led the efforts to obtain the SWE Affiliation.”


For Loretta, spearheading the push for the club was certainly a labor of love.


As Loretta took more and more engineering, mathematics and other science courses at Essex, she noticed that the number of women in each class was getting smaller. “I felt it was just not happening for women overall; no one was pushing us,” Loretta said.


So Loretta figured it was time to get more women interested in the STEM programs. After talking to some of her classmates, the club officially began. There are currently 20 club members. In addition to Loretta, the other officers are Yazmin A. Villalba (vice president), Alyssa Maquiling (treasurer), and Yarihsa Chicmana (secretary).


“We are proud to represent minority students and that is exactly what the industry needs, diversity!” noted Loretta.


As one of its first activities as an Affiliate, a contingent of at least 10 students, accompanied by Dr. Kalantarov, will attend SWE’s April conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

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