Graduate Women in Engineering Network (GWEN)

Vision and Mission of the GWEN Program

The Graduate Women in Engineering Network strives to empower and connect women engineering graduate students.


To provide a supportive environment for the purpose of sharing information and strategies to enable women engineering graduate students to achieve success personally, academically, and professionally. 

Program Objectives
  • Community: To establish an inclusive network that affirms, inspires, and supports women and gender minorities throughout the engineering graduate career. 
  • Strategies: To provide opportunities to develop skills and introduce strategies for professional and personal development.
  • Advancement: To provide an enriching experience that encourages individual growth, and furthers the community of women engineers. 
2023 GWEN Symposium: Sharing Your Voice, Extending Your Reach REGISTER HERE
Program Booklet
Abstract Booklet

Calling all graduate women in engineering! Grow your confidence. Present your amazing work. Cultivate your networks. 

The Graduate Women in Engineering Network (GWEN) will host the 2nd annual GWEN Symposium on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at Purdue University.

Sharing Your Voice, Extending Your Reach
2nd Annual Graduate Women in Engineering Network Symposium

The GWEN Symposium is an opportunity for women graduate students to build community, support your peers, hear about exciting research, and learn from inspiring alumnae. 

Registration open December 1, 2022 through January 27, 2023 at:

Registration is $20 for COE Graduate Students and $100 for others. Registration includes all sessions and meals (i.e., continental breakfast at the Plenary talk, Keynote Luncheon, and the closing Network Reception & Poster Session with hors d'oeuvres and open bar). Registered COE graduate students who attend the Opening Plenary, all professional sessions, the Keynote Luncheon, and the Networking Reception will be eligible for one of the five door prizes of $1,000 each. Names drawn at the end-of-day Networking Reception must be present to win. Winners must be current COE Graduate student. 

9:00am Sign-in Opens (Registration table outside of STEW 302/306)
9:00-9:30am Get your professional Headshot taken
9:30-10:15am Opening Plenary (with continental breakfast)
  • Bich-Van Pham (BS ChE Northwestern; PhD ChE Purdue) Associate Director R&D Catalyst Innovation, Tyson, Chicago, IL
10:15-10:30am Transition & Break
10:30-11:30am Session 1*
11:30-11:45am Transition & Break
11:45-1:30pm Keynote Luncheon hosted by Sandia National Labs
Keynote Panel of Alumnae:
  • Velvet Basemera Fitzpatrick (BS CE Prairie View A&M; MS CE Purdue; PhD ENE Purdue) Senior Program Officer, National Academies - Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.
  • Molly Goldstein (BS Engineering Illinois; MS Systems & Entrepreneurial Engineering Illinois; PhD ENE Purdue) Teaching Assistant Professor & Product Design Lab Director, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
  • Jessica Sargent-Brown (BS Polymer & Fiber Eng Auburn; MS ChE Purdue; PhD MSE Purdue) Research Engineering, Cook Advance Tech, West Lafayette, IN
  • Karen Son (BS ME Utah State; PhD ME Purdue) Thermal Analyst, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
  • Fengqing Maggie Shu (BS EE Purdue, MS ECE Purdue, PhD ECE Purdue) Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
1:15-1:45pm Get your professional Headshot taken
1:30-1:45pm Transition & Break
1:45-2:45pm Session 2*
2:45-3:00pm Transition & Break
3:00-4:00pm Session 3*
4:00-6:00pm Networking Reception with Poster Session
Beer, Wine & Hors d'oeuvres hosted by the Women in Engineering Program

*COE Grad Student Presentation Sessions begin with advice from alumnae on strategies for success followed by research talks from your peers across the College.

Questions, please contact the GWEN Leadership team:

Individuals of all races, genders, and backgrounds are welcome.

2023 GWEN Symposium: Call for Abstracts CLOSED

The Graduate Women in Engineering Network proudly announces the 2nd annual symposium for graduate women in the College of Engineering. 

Sharing Your Voice, Extending Your Reach
2nd Annual Graduate Women in Engineering Network Symposium

Call for Posters, Conference Presentations, and Special Format Presentations.

The GWEN Symposium will be held on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. It is an opportunity for graduate students to build community, share the impact of their work in new and engaging ways, and learn from inspiring alumnae.  

Incentive for Presenters

Those who are registered for and present at the GWEN Symposium will be eligible for the Women in Engineering (WiE) Program Travel Grant drawing. Ten (10) WiE Travel Grants of $1,000 each will be randomly awarded. WiE Travel Grant funds can only be used for professional conference travel within the 2023 calendar year at which the awardee presents their novel research. Names will be drawn at the end-of-day Networking Reception. Must be a current CoE graduate student and present to win.

Key Points

  • Submit an abstract of 250-500 words that includes a brief introduction, research significance (which answers the question "why did you do this research?"), methodology, key findings, and the implications of your work. Please keep in mind that your abstract will likely be reviewed by someone outside your field; thus, write for someone who may not be familiar with your research area. 
  • The symposium has 5 presentation types (options outlined below). Indicate your top 2 preferences of presentation type on your submission.

Presentation Types

  • Workshop Roundtable- focused use of dialogue to foster collective insight around real-life challenges and strategic questions
    • Goal: Build collective knowledge through conversation; an opportunity to discuss research implications, broader impacts, and questions that matter
    • Presentation Format:
      • Audience will be seated at discussion tables with 4-7 persons at each table.
      • Each presenter gives a 3-minutes pitch with 3 slides to share the research topic.
      • Each speaker will sit at a table and facilitate an interactive discussion with the audience to engage in a deeper understanding, questions/suggestions for future work, or impacts of the research.
      • Audience will participate in group discussion for ~10 minutes after which the discussion will end, and participants will be free to move to another table for a new discussion.
      • Examples: outreach activities centered around your audience (e.g., for a 6th grade classroom), feedback on your current research, etc.
  • Pecha Kucha- 400 seconds to tell your story with visuals guiding the way. Pecha Kucha means chit-chat in Japanese
    • Goal: Creative use of images and storytelling to show your research; opportunity to think creatively about your work and how you convey its impact to others
    • Presentation Format:
      • 20 images, 20 seconds each, auto-advancing slides
      • 6.5-minute presentation
      • 3-minute Q&A session
  • Popular Press- convey your research as if you were discussing it with a group of high schoolers (the average level of education in the US). Considerations include limiting technical verbiage, connecting your research to broader impacts that are relevant to the general public (e.g., beyond STEM professionals), and answer the questions "so what?" and "why should I care about your research?" to a lay audience; creative use of presentation format encouraged
    • Goal: Practice presenting and describing your research to a lay audience; opportunity to explore different creative formats
    • Presentation Format:
      • 6-minute presentation
      • 4-minute Q&A session
  • Traditional Conference Talk- the traditional way of presenting your research at an academic conference; usually has slides to aid listeners understand the topic being presented
    • Goal: Practice presenting and answering questions for a talk meant for a traditional academic conference
    • Presentation Format:
      • 10-minute presentation
      • 2-minute Q&A session
  • Poster Session- a more visual and impactful twist on a traditional way of presenting your research to a general audience
    • Goal: Engage in meaningful conversation about your research across disciplinary boundaries, moving beyond a traditional "poster presentation" and into a conversation, the broader impacts (i.e., beyond the lab), and its potential connections to your audience's research.
    • Presentation Format:
      • 2-minute overview from each presenter to pitch your research to the audience
      • 1-hour networking reception to discuss research across multidisciplinary boundaries
    • Presentation Requirements:
      • Posters should have dimensions of 3ft by 4ft
      • Posters should consist of no more than 30 words and/or 3 images! (not including the title, references, and standard author and collaborator/sponsor information)
      • Examples: a provocative question pertaining to your research or future work, key words related to your research's broader impacts. This shouldn't look like a traditional academic poster!

Questions, please contact the GWEN Leadership team:

2023 GWEN Symposium: FAQs for Presenters

2023 GWEN Symposium: FAQs for Presenters, click here.

WiE Travel Grant Award for Graduate Students

Congratulations to the 2022 WiE Travel Grant winners who were selected from presenters at the 1st annual GWEN Symposium held February 7, 2022.

  • Caitlin Adams (PhD MSE) - "Effect of binder chemistry on superabsorbent polymer internal curing of cementitious systems," 12th Advances in Cement-Based Materials Conference, Irvine, CA, July 2022.
  • Claudia Benito Alston (PhD BME) - "Finite Element Analysis of Patient-Specific 3D Printed Bone Graft for Vertical Alveolar Ridge Augmentation," Society for Biomaterials, Baltimore, MD, April 2022.
  • Zuhal Cakir (PhD ChE) - "First-Principles Analysis of the Ammonia Decomposition Reaction on High Entropy Alloy Catalysts", SciPy, Austin, TX, July 2022.
  • Aliya Ehde (PhD EEE)
  • Alexis Hoerter (PhD BME) - "In silico model characterizing in vitro M. tuberculosis Granuloma Dynamics", A Research Reboot of Tuberculosis on the Keystone Symposia 50th Anniversary, Breckenridge, CO, August 2022.
  • Athena Lin (PhD ENE) - "How do Engineering Education Graduate Students Perceive and Negotiate Disciplinary Expectations in Academic Writing," American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition, Minneapolis, MN, June 2022.
  • Sara Metti (PhD ECE)
  • Burla Ondes (PhD IE) - "The Optimality Gap for Bi-Objective Convex Quadratic Programs is O(sqrt{t})",2022 INFORMS Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN, October 2022.
  • Katie Riley (PhD ME) - "Metamaterial Sensing and Memory via Multistability and Viscoelastic Effects", MRS Fall Meeting, Boston, MA, November 2022.
  • Ana Ulloa (PhD MSE) - "Controlled Synthesis of Polystyrene/Citrate Capped AuNPs Microparticles for the Colorimetric Detection of Hg2+ Ions through Aptamer-target Interaction," 2022 TMS Annual meeting & Exhibition/BioNano Interfaces and Engineering Applications, Anaheim, CA, February 2022. 
Past Symposia
First Annual GWEN Symposium
February 7, 2022
Sharing Your Voice, Making An Impact
A Graduate Women in Engineering Network Symposium

Symposium Abstract Booklet

Symposium Agenda:

10:00 - 10:45am Opening Plenary - Speaker: Amy Penner (BS ABE 2007 Purdue; MS ABE 2008 Purdue; MBA Oxford Brookes) R&D Principal Engineer, PepsiCo, Chicago, IL
10:45 - 11:00am Transition & Break
12:00 - 12:15pm Transition & Break
12:15 - 1:15pm Luncheon & Keynote host by Sandia National Laboratories - Speaker: Dr. Megan Nyre-Yu (BS IE 2009 Purdue; MS IE 2016 Purdue; PhD IE 2019 Purdue) R&D Science & Engineering - Human Factors, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
1:15 - 1:30pm Transition & Break
2:30 - 2:45pm Transition & Break, Put up posters
3:45 - 4:00pm Transition & Break
4:00 - 5:30pm Networking Reception and Poster Session (list of posters) - cocktails & hors d'oeuvres hosted by the Women in Engineering Program

 *COE Grad Student Presentation sessions begin with advice from alumnae on strategies for success followed by research talks from your peers across the College.

Meet the GWEN Leadership Team
Suzanne Zurn-Birkhimer | Associate Director
Suzanne Zurn-Birkhimer | Associate Director
Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer is the Associate Director of the Women in Engineering Program and oversees GWEN. Here is her bio.

Why GWEN is great
"The Graduate Women in Engineering Program is near and dear to my heart. I was involved in a similar program during my graduate years. Not only did it allow me to build a community of women scholars, I was able to grow personally and professionally. I am excited that we continue to bring these amazing opportunities to students today."
Cathy Deno | Administrative Assistant
Cathy Deno | Administrative Assistant
Cathy is one of the Women in Engineering Program's Administrative Assistants. She works with the mentoring program teams and the WE Link recruitment team. Here is her bio.

Why GWEN is great
"I love that GWEN offers our women graduate students not only the opportunity to network with women outside of their disciplines but also a safe place to practice unique ways of presenting their research at the annual symposium."
Olivia Brandt | PhD Student | Materials Engineering
Olivia Brandt | PhD Student | Materials Engineering
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Olivia is from Los Angeles and obtained a bachelor's degree in materials engineering from the University of California, Riverside in 2019. Olivia's PhD research is focused on understanding ceramic processing techniques that are used to create heat exchanges. Besides GWEN, Olivia is active in the American Ceramics Society where she is chair of the President's Council of Student Advisors. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys playing the piano, cycling, and watching her favorite TV shows.

Why GWEN is great
"GWEN is an exceptional program that offers networking opportunities with alumnae and students within different engineering disciplines and provides a space for academic, personal, and professional growth through unique programming. GWEN has given me resources and skills that I could not have obtained through my own engineering discipline and has allowed me to make connections that I would have otherwise missed if I was not involved."
Burla Ondes | PhD Student | Industrial Engineering
Burla Ondes | PhD Student | Industrial Engineering
Burla received her B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Florida at Gainesville in 2019. Her PhD research is focused on deriving performance bounds for multi-objective simulation optimization algorithms. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, visiting springs and reading novels.

Why GWEN is great
"GWEN is an extraordinary program that offers many opportunities for women graduate students such as networking with alumnae and fellow women graduate students along with the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. It also provides a welcoming environment for women graduate students in any discipline of engineering which is extremely important especially in graduate school."
Elizabeth Sanders | PhD Student | Engineering Education
Elizabeth Sanders | PhD Student | Engineering Education
Hometown: Central Illinois

Elizabeth is an Engineering Education PhD student, originally from Central Illinois. She completed her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her M.S. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan. Her current research focuses on human-centered design, ethics, and empathy in engineering. Outside of school, she likes to spend her time making music, doing art, being outdoors, or enjoying some live music!

Why GWEN is great
"GWEN is an incredible program that intentionally centers community among women graduate students. I love that GWEN provides an inclusive and welcoming space for women graduate students to connect across disciplines and create meaningful, lasting friendships!"
Anne Serban | PhD Student | Chemical Engineering
Anne Serban | PhD Student | Chemical Engineering

Anne received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2020. She is part of the Beaudoin group and is currently working on understanding the adhesion between energetic particles and their binders. In her free time, Anne enjoys being outside and trying new foods. 

Why GWEN is great
"GWEN provides opportunities to meet fellow women in engineering and helps build networks; this was especially meaningful to me as I joined Purdue during COVID."

GWEN Partners:


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