Region A Blog

Society of Women Engineers, Golden West Region

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The Goldenwest Region

Hi everyone,

Welcome and thank you for checking out the Region A blog! Our region includes sections in Northern California, Hawaii, and Nevada. My name is Eileen Reyes and I am the Region A Collegiate Communications Editor (RCCE) for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). As an RCCE, my role is to inform and share news, events, and best practices as well as provide connections to our resources. If you have any suggestions to help improve the blog or would like an article posted, please email me at  There is also the Region A Facebook group! Please subscribe and hope you enjoy reading about the great happenings of Region A!


Above: SWEstar, the mascot of Region A

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SWEstar Photo Contest Entries

Thank you to the sections who sent their photos! The Region Collegiate Team will decide on the first, second, and third place winners and will announce the winning sections on the blog.

SWE-SCV 2014 - 2

Santa Clara Valley Section’s SWEstar on the left


San Joaquin Valley’s SWEstar attending Spamalot

CSU, Chico SWE Star Photo 2

CSU Chico Section with a Girl Scouts group from Northern California that participated in the Small Satellites for Secondary Students (S4) outreach program


UC Berkeley’s SWEstar


Humboldt State University’s SWEstar named Sequoia


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SWEstar Photo Contest Submissions Now Open!


Photo submissions are now open until Sunday, June 1st, 2014! This contest is open to both professional and collegiate sections of Region A. Please submit your photo to Remember only one photo submission per section and also include your SWEstar’s name. It is optional to add a title to your photo. Can’t wait to see all the cute SWEstars of our region! :)

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Spotlight on a Section: San Joaquin Valley

San Joaquin Valley 1

Above: group photo in front of the Livingston facility.  Below left: All dressed up in safety gear before entering the bottling facilities.  Below right: Lunch at Gallo in Modesto between the two factory tours.

San Joaquin Valley 2

Over the last year the San Joaquin Valley Section has hosted a three-part series, “Engineering in Wine.”  This series included technical tours of Gallo Winery facilities, showcasing grape processing, packaging and bottling.  In the first tour, students and professionals visited one of the largest grape processing facilities in the world at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Livingston, CA.  The 18 participants watched the delivery of a truckload of grapes, and then followed the grapes through a journey of pipes and (very cool) machinery while learning about the fermentation process.

Students really enjoyed hearing about the type of work that the many engineers at this ever-growing facility participate in.  The tour was followed by a picnic lunch at a nearby park where students from University of the Pacific, UC Merced and professionals from the San Joaquin Valley could get to know each other.

The second event in the series was a tour of the Scholle packaging plant in Merced where ‘bag in a box’ packaging is produced.  This type of sterile packaging is used for a wide variety of food products beyond boxed wine, such as giant storage bags for salsa that can keep for months in a warehouse (who knew?).

Scholle routinely hires interns, and before the tour started students from CSU Fresno, UC Merced and University of the Pacific heard some excellent advice from the female plant manager on what it takes to earn an internship, what to expect during an internship and what it’s like to be a woman in manufacturing.

Following the tour, everyone was invited to Dena Traina’s home, one of the San Joaquin Valley officers, for a late lunch and an intimate talk by Cara Strom, Senior Vice President at Hatch Mott MacDonald.  Cara spoke about California’s exciting high speed train project, on which she has been working for several years–and of course gave excellent advice to some of the younger members on how to succeed in engineering.

The final event in the Engineering in Wine series was a tour of E. & J. Gallo’s Modesto Headquarters where all of the wine is bottled.  (This event was so popular that a second tour was set up, following the lunch, to accommodate everyone who was interested in attending).  The event started with a history of Gallo by Megan Kayland, a San Joaquin Valley officer who works at Gallo and who set up the series of events.  Megan talked about the wide range of engineering majors that Gallo recruits, and some of the many jobs they work on.

At the factory tour we marveled at the massive lines that process millions of bottles of wine a year—sterilizing the bottles, filling them with wine, labeling them, and boxing the bottles for shipment.  The machinery was amazing!  This event was attended by San Joaquin Valley professional members and students from UC Merced, University of the Pacific, and UC Davis.  UC Merced also invited fellow NSBE members who were able to join the tour.

One of the primary goals of these events was to form a stronger relationship between the San Joaquin Valley section and all of the student sections within our area.  Hopefully this will help with retention after students graduate.  Having the three-part series seemed to increase participation with the cohesion of several events over the year.  This event was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about career options available to them, and to meet successful women working in these jobs.  For the professionals, it was fun to catch up with each other in person and to see new sectors of engineering that they typically don’t work in.

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Spotlight on a Section: Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada member highlight: Seena Drapala has been in SWE for 14 years, starting in New York when her college friend invited her to a region conference. She was hooked on SWE and is now a Life Member. When she transferred to Nevada with GE she brought her enthusiasm and experience. She obtained her degree in Mechanical Engineering after working at GE in drafting and working alongside of engineers. She has since retired from GE and is pursuing another passion of hers, Art in its many forms. She is working on advance degrees in Fine Arts. Yet she still finds time to dedicate to the Sierra Nevada Section. She has been president for four years and is hoping to let other young women take over the lead to gain the experience of running a section. She is very active in both our K-12 outreach and our collegiate outreach programs.  Seena’s other SWE accomplishments include, charter president for Region F’s New York State Capital District Section and past chair for the annual conference programming board committee. She highly recommends volunteering for the section, regional, and headquarters SWE positions to meet more women in technology, gain experience in leading larger groups and understand SWE organization better. She was instrumental in GE’s broader use of SWE’s annual conference as a professional development and networking venue for GE technical women from around the global. She believes that everyone can have an impact. Seena enjoys teaching motorcycle safety to new and experienced riders. She travels frequently to visit family, especially her new grandson Bryce in Manhattan, and soon to Sacramento where one daughter will be doing her residency. She resides in the beautiful Carson Valley just over the hill from South Lake Tahoe in Minden, Nevada with her husband. Sierra Nevada Section

From left to right: Northern Nevada’s FIRST Tech Challenge, Mathcounts Top Female, NYSCD Section Charter year 2002

What do you think makes your section stand out from other sections? Any socials or events that your section is known for or that is unique?

We are a very small section yet due to our extensive outreach we are introducing many youngsters to various STEM fields. Although not unique, we love our K-6 STEM events. Our last full-day event was during eWeek where we presented activities to cover seven STEM disciplines to almost 300 students. We made popsicle catapults and bunny helicopters and our partners at FIRST brought their robots. Of course, the favorite was making ice cream by freezing it with ice and salt. Because we are so small, we work closely with our collegiate partners at UNR (University of Nevada at Reno) to help staff the events and we love the enthusiasm and creativity of the young college girls.

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Region A Joint Professional/Collegiate Events for Spring and Summer 2014

Spring-Summer 14 Joint EventsWe will be visiting the Exploratorium at its new location on Pier 15 in San Francisco on May 10th.  This hands-on museum is fun for children and adults of all ages. We will meet at the entrance of the museum at 10:30 am. Everyone will be responsible for purchasing their own tickets for this event.

Join your fellow SWE members out in nature for a camping trip on Friday/Saturday June 13th -14th, 2014 at Samuel P Taylor State park located in the Marin redwoods.  For more details please see the attached flyer.

To RSVP for either of these events please email Chelsea Spier at

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April Hot Topic: SWE Award Applications

Section awards are a great way to recognize your region and section to the society! How awesome would it be to attend the Celebrate SWE Banquet at Annual Conference with members from all over the world, and your section is called in front of everyone for an award? I am sure that moment will be one of the best and proudest moments in SWE for you! Think about your section’s best practices and some of them can actually qualify for an award! The following are steps on how to find the section awards:

  1. Go to the SWE website at
  2. Near the top of the page, highlight the Awards tab and click on Region/Section
  3. Scroll down the page and there will be a list of awards


For pictured details on finding the section awards, you can download this set of instructions. Here is the list of awards your section can apply for:

  • Communications Award
  • Membership Award
    • Collegiate Transition
    • Collegiate to Career
    • Region Membership
    • Membership Retention Program
    • Membership Recruitment Program
  • Multicultural Award
    • Motorola Foundation Multicultural Award (Professional Sections and MALs)
    • Company Multicultural Award (Collegiate Sections)
  • Outreach Award
    • Event/Series Program
    • Outreach MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) Partnership
    • Outreach Parent and Educator Program
  • Professional Development Award

Notice that with three of the awards, there are multiple categories so you can find which one your section can represent the best. Make sure to look over the qualifications and your section can apply for multiple awards! Applications must be submitted by July 1st, 2014. Awards will be presented during the next Annual Conference (WE14) at Los Angeles, California in late October. Please consider to apply for these awards! The more applications your section submits, the more chances your section can win awards! :D Also, one great tip is to utilize the award coordinators in our region or the national awards chair for help. If have any questions about the section awards, feel free to contact me at or our Region Governor, Ashley Pietz at Good luck to our sections who are applying!


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