ECU Student Activities and Organizations honors Society of Women Engineers

East Carolina University Student Activities and Organizations (SAO) has recognized the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter and one of its former leaders.

Antonia Dingeman, second from left, stands with other members of ECU’s chapter of SWE during the organization’s 2019 gala. ECU Student Activities and Organizations named Dingeman an Officer of the Year. (Contributed photo)

The SAO named Antonia Dingeman, SWE’s president for the 2019-2020 academic year, as one of two Officers of the Year, while the SWE fundraising gala received SAO’s Event of the Year award.

Dingeman said she appreciated SAO for presenting her the award and thanked her fellow officers for nominating her.

“All of the time and energy that I have put into SWE hasn’t been for recognition. I wanted to continue to make our organization better,” Dingeman said. “I have been interested in STEM since I was in elementary school, and SWE allowed me to spread my passion to others. By having a group of gals who support each other, it was easy to continue to expand SWE by being involved on campus and in our community.”

Dingeman said the SWE gala started in 2019 with an idea of having a large, formal event for ECU’s engineering community.

“Our organization decided in order to make this type of event happen, we needed it to have a purpose, and what better way than raising money for a good cause,” Dingeman said.

The idea for that good cause came from Ann McClung, who was involved with Pitt Pirates Robotics, an organization dedicated to generating interest in science, technology, engineering and math among youth.

Members of ECU’s SWE chapter pose with Dr. Michelle Oyen, center, during the 2019 SWE Gala. (Contributed photo)

“Ann McClung gave us the idea of raising money to provide the younger generation in Pitt County opportunities to learn more about STEM education and have hands-on experiences through engineering clubs,” Dingeman said.

In a matter of months — and with support from the Department of Engineering and College of Engineering and Technology student organizations — the first SWE gala came together and raised $3,458 with more than 100 people attending.

Though the 2020 gala did not take place because of the coronavirus, ticket-holders were treated to an online raffle, and thanks to sponsors and supporters, $4,116 was raised.

“It was disappointing at first to know that all the logistics and fun activities we had planned for the event were canceled,” said Grace Krell, the incoming president of the organization. “Even though this happened to us, we knew that we had to work harder than ever to get a virtual event live.”

She said SWE members were excited to hear that SAO recognized the gala.

“I was extremely thrilled that all our hard work paid off,” Krell said. “We start planning for the gala during the summer and all throughout fall semester. The work is hard, but in the end, it is worth it because we are providing STEM education to so many children in Pitt County.”

A team of professors, student organization advisors, staff and student leaders selected the SAO winners in various categories from among 60 nominations. A planned on-campus recognition ceremony had to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, winners were recognized via social media, and framed award certificates are to be mailed to the honorees.

Attendees gather at the 2019 SWE Gala. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s SWE chapter has about 50 members. Its goal is to create a community of empowered women to help them achieve their goals. Beyond the gala, the group helps members improve professional skills through events such as LinkedIn workshops and conferences, including last year’s SWE national conference in California.

“The club is very tight knit, and we welcome everybody from all backgrounds into open arms,” Krell said. “… Though we are the Society of Women Engineers, we are inclusive of all genders and majors.”

Dingeman joined SWE as a freshman and later served as vice president before becoming president this past year. She graduated in May, and credits the organization with helping her achieve success at ECU.

“I consider SWE to be my second family,” Dingeman said. “Being a part of this organization has had such a great impact on my time at ECU, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Anyone interested in SWE can visit the organization’s page on Engage or email Krell at krellg18@students.ecu.edu.