3D printed keychains raise funds for SWE

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The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) hosted their second keychain fundraiser on Thursday, Nov. 30, where attendees could pay to have a 3-D printer make a keychain of their choice.

The printer, operated by SWE President Lindsay Ren, uses a complex system to turn an electronic file into a tangible object.

“You take the file, and it breaks it down into triangles,” said Ren, a third-year mechanical engineering student. “Then, it saves the pattern as an STL file, which can be transmitted to the printer. The printer reads the file and prints it layer by layer to make the shape you want.”

Students could choose from a range of keychains or create their own unique design.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will allow SWE to buy apparel and host more events.

“We are slightly larger in member size this year,” said SWE Vice President Teresa Jeffery, a third-year physics student. “So we are raising money for t-shirts, which will make our organization look more like a team. We also do outreach with high school students. We go on a charter bus, pick up the students and bring them to SVSU, where we teach them about robotics or circuits.”

SWE Secretary Sabrina Coffman sees the importance of these outreach events.

“I think that it’s very important to introduce engineering concepts and STEM to girls at a young age,” said Coffman, a second-year mechanical engineering student. “I didn’t do much with STEM until high school, and I was really lucky that we had a robotics club. I don’t think that I would have ended up in this field without it.”

The money raised will also fund trips for SWE members.

“Last year, we went to GM Powertrain and Nexteer,” Jeffery said. “We toured the plant and had the opportunity to speak to women in the field. They gave us their perspective of what it’s like to be a woman in engineering and offered advice on what to do in the future.”

Coffman outlined the benefit of being a SWE member and taking tours of local engineering facilities.

“It’s a good way to get your name out there and make connections in different places,” Coffman said. “Especially being a female and meeting other females in the workforce so you can get that first hand perspective.”

SWE also provides social benefits which extend beyond professional experiences.

“I found that I really didn’t have a lot of friends in the engineering department going through it,” Ren said. “Being in SWE has given me the opportunity to make more friends who have common interests.”

Ultimately, SWE aims to empower women who are perusing STEM degrees.

“We really try and support women in engineering and STEM fields,” Ren said. “It’s a male-dominated field, and you know that going in. You can either choose to let it stop you from doing what you love or use it to your advantage, but we want women to get out there and not be afraid of being unique.”