“Passion is the log that keeps the fire of purpose blazing.”
— Oprah Winfrey
View this email in your browser
SWE-CI Monthly Buzz Header

A Note from the President
By Fiona O'Laughlin  

As the year draws to a close, I would like to thank you for your engagement with SWE CI. Despite another challenging year, SWE CI continues to prosper and plant seeds for exciting events in 2022.

2021 has been a year of collaboration, professional excellence, awards and recognition, and advocacy for our professional section. Virtual events have allowed us to be more inclusive of all our members as well as collaborative as we extend invitations to collegiate SWE members. With focused effort, our regional contacts are hosting events to build supportive connections among our members locally.

We have increased our professional excellence through SWE CI members sharing expertise and wisdom as speakers at conferences, organizing STEM outreach events, and as authors of technical books. Plus, several of our members received individual awards for patents and leadership.

As a professional section, SWE CI received 3 prestigious awards at the SWE Conference. SWE currently has over 400 Collegiate and Professional Sections and only 3 Collegiate sections and 3 Professional sections receive Best Practice awards. Central Illinois received 2 of those awards plus the highest honor of a Mission Gold award.

We also recognized others through WE Local Awards that will be presented in 2022 by nominating Caterpillar Inc. for Sustaining Benefactor Award and our partnership with SWE Illinois for a Joint Professional/Collegiate Event Award. SWE CI will also receive an award for Outstanding Professional Development Event for the Virtual Professional Speaker Series featuring Jovita Jenkins, Michele Sullivan, Susan Ottman, and Dr. Robyn McKay. SWE CI has submitted and/or won grants for outreach, professional development, and advocacy.

SWE CI continues to host events through the end of the year with the Advocacy committee organizing sessions with Illinois State Representatives and Itzel Jihan hosting our very first regional event in Bloomington.

For planting seeds, Professional Development, Advocacy, and 30th Anniversary Planning team have secured speakers and are diligently planning events to engage us all in the new year. Outreach is busy planning & preparing for Engineering Week at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. SWE CI continues to raise money for our endowed scholarship fund and to secure a speaker for the 30th anniversary of SWE CI.

In closing, I would like to share a thought that my mentor shared with me earlier this week. Remember that the holidays are a time of reflection and pausing to celebrate the year. We often wear ourselves out at this time of year and must take time to recharge ourselves.

This month, our engaged and wonderful SWE CI Executive Board had a very short business meeting followed by a relaxing yoga session to help us focus on ourselves. Work Life Integration hosted an immersive cycling experience to help our members focus on physical health.

I encourage you to take time to recharge by doing something just for you – enjoy a favorite activity, create, sit by a fire, read a book, take a hike, or go for a run. Just do you.

One of my favorite activities that I do for myself every year is a time of reflection - noting how I succeeded, how to improve, and refine my vision and goals. I then design a planner that supports me in the coming year and choose a quote for the front cover. My 2022 planner quote is from Maya Angelou: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

SWE CI is filled with passionate and compassionate people and I assure you that 2022 will be filled with SWE style. Again, thank you for being part of SWE CI. I look forward as we carry the momentum and excitement into the coming year.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season with plenty of time for you to recharge.

Committee Updates

Champaign-Urbana Area

Calling all UIUC Alumni:
The UIUC collegiate SWE section is looking to update their alumni database and gage interest for the annual alumni brunch. Please take a minute (I did it in 30 seconds!) to fill out the following link:

UIUC Panel:

The UIUC chapter of SWE will be hosting a panel in late January/early February and are requesting panelists from SWE CI. 
    The panel topic will be 'life in the workforce and life after graduation'. 
    Agenda will be panelist introductions and experiences after graduation, followed by a Q&A and then networking. 
    The event will be a hybrid- virtual for those outside of the Champaign-Urbana area, but in-person for those willing to attend. 
    Panelists do not have to be UIUC alumni. They are hoping to have 3-5 speakers, from different companies and with different engineering backgrounds.
    If you are a recent college graduate (0-5 yrs in the workforce) please reach out to me if you'd be interested in speaking on the panel! 
    Kara Kessling (


Nomination Committee

Nominations Open for SWE-CI FY23 Leaders:
It’s almost time to share who you think would make a great SWE-CI leader! Below are important dates for Nominations and Positions. 

Nominations survey will be sent – Early Feb 2022
Review Nominations – Early March 2022 
Election Survey – Early April 2022
Elections Voting – Mid April 2022
Election Announcement – May 2022

SWE-CI Elected Positions
•    President-Elect (2-year term, subsequent year served as President)
•    Treasurer (1-year term)
•    Secretary (1-year term)

SWE-CI Committee Chair Positions (appointed)
•    Professional Development Committee Chair
•    Outreach Committee Chair
•    Work Life Integration Committee Chair
•    Communication Committee Chair 
•    Finance Committee Chair
•    Nomination Committee Chair
•    Membership Committee Chair
•    Awards & Recognition Committee Chair
•    Advocacy Chair
•    Historian
•    SWE Counselors* (for Bradley University, University of Illinois- Urbana/Champaign)
      *elected by the collegiate sections
•    Regional Contacts: Bloomington/Normal, Decatur, Urbana/Champaign, Springfield

December Events

Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers contributing their time to help SWE support successful events throughout December!

Professional Development Committee:

"Developing the Mindset for Inclusive Leadership" Module 2:

On December 7th, 2021, the SWE-CI Professional Development Committee hosted a round table discussion on the SWE “Developing the Mindset of Inclusive Leadership” training – Module 2.

Module 2 of this training discussed unconscious bias, encouraged us to learn about our own biases.  We talked about some of the most common types of bias and techniques for disrupting bias when we see it occur.

A special thank you to Stacey DelVecchio and Holly Teig for leading the discussion in our break-out groups and ensuring an inclusive environment for all participants. Insightful conversation flowed from personal experiences and work situations.  We have received feedback on the value of the training from some of our members who have participated.

“The training was very enlightening and forced me to the link through my own biases. While I was not able to attend session 1, I was still able to engage in conversation related to session 2.” – Bethany Thimote

“I've attended both DEI sessions. For the first session, I was able to complete the module before our conversation and for the second, I did not complete the module and was still able to listen, learn and contribute to the conversation. What I enjoy most about these sessions is that this content is helping me assess my personal biases honestly, think about my close circle of friends and colleagues, and challenge myself to consider multiple aspects before responding to situations. I'm learning foundational terminology that is different than anything I have learned in other Diversity & Inclusion training sessions. This is a more personal experience in a trusting environment with compassionate SWE members that will have long lasting impact on my understanding and inclusiveness.” – Fiona O’Laughlin

For more information about the free SWE Developing the Mindset of Inclusive Leadership training, go to the following link:

We will be holding a discussion on Module 3, which is about “Intercultural Fluency 101 & Confronting Cultural Bias” on Thursday, January 27 from 5-6 pm.  The modules are stand-alone, so you do not have to have completed the earlier modules to participate and contribute to the Module 3 discussion. We hope you’ll join us!

Outreach Committee:

Brimfield Library Events:
SWE-CI did two outreach events at Brimfield library in December. The first event was making a singing tree using a Makey Makey and programing with Scratch. The second event was creating Harry Potter wands with LED’s and copper tape. Shown below, volunteer Kara Kessling demonstrates how to build the wands.

Our next big outreach event is eWeek celebration at Peoria Riverfront museum Feb 20,2022. This year is planned to be in person and we will need lots of volunteers.

Happy Holidays and Lumos!


FY22 SWE-CI Exec Team:

SWE-CI End Of Year Meeting & Yoga: 

On December 6th, the SWE Executive Board had our last meeting of 2021. All executive board meetings have been virtual for this fiscal year and we decided, for those who felt comfortable, were available, and live within close proximity to the Peoria-area, to host an in person meeting. The executive board met at Miss Elena’s Studio DYB, a woman-owned business. We had a quick monthly meeting with a virtual option for those unable to attend in person and then focused on our own well-being during a busy time of year. Miss Elena lead us in a much needed relaxing and masked yoga session followed by dedicated time to connect with each other over snacks and drinks. This was a wonderful way to end the year. A special thank you to Laura Ruiz-Santamaria, our SWE CI Secretary, for organizing this event. SWE CI Executive Board meetings are open for all our SWE CI members and held the second Tuesday of each month. Please reach out to any SWE CI elected member, committee chair, collegiate liaison and area representative for virtual meeting details. All SWE CI Executive Board Members are listed on our SWE CI website  


Sendoff Party & Thank You to Elizabeth Fawcett: 

Elizabeth Fawcett, a Senior Engineer with Eaton and one of our SWE CI Work Life Integration (WLI) Committee Chairs, recently accepted her dream job in the medical device industry as a Principal Research & Development Engineer with Cardinal Health. In her new role, Elizabeth will help patients by developing and improving products to assist with circulation after surgery to avoid blood clots and to expediate the healing of wounds. Elizabeth and her husband Dylan will be moving to St. Louis at the end of this month. 
Elizabeth has been an engaged member of SWE CI since 2015 and a vital member of our SWE CI executive board since 2018. Before serving as the WLI co-chair, Elizabeth was our SWE CI Bradley Counselor working with the collegiate section. She welcomed many recent Bradley University graduates to transition from SWE collegiate to our professional section.
We will miss Elizabeth's energy, warmth and enthusiasm and wish her great success changing the world. We also extend a heartfelt thanks to Elizabeth for always being a welcoming and wonderful leader of SWE CI. The executive board hosted a dinner at One World Café on December 8th to thank Elizabeth and wish her well. 
If you are interested in leadership within SWE CI as a co-chair for the Work Life Integration Committee working alongside Sarah Flanigan, please contact Fiona O'Laughlin. As Monica Calugar, a past WLI chair shared, WLI is the fun committee and a great way to get engaged and organize enjoyable events for SWE CI members.  

Upcoming Events

More details to come on upcoming events. 
Outreach Committee

Girls Who Code Sessions:
Held weekly on Wednesday from 5:30-7pm @ Tri County Urban League, Peoria
Sign-Up for weeks that work with your schedule  
For more information please contact Girls Who Code Leader –

Bloomington-Normal Area

Bloomington Area Meet-Up:
Come meet and socialize with members in the Bloomington-Normal Area
Due to circumstances outside of our control, we’ve had to move our December Happy Hour date -  I’m sorry for any inconvenience! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon! 😊

When: Friday, December 17th at 5 PM
Where: The Mystic Kitchen & Tasting Room in Downtown Bloomington (306 N. Center St., Bloomington, IL) 
RSVP: Please RSVP here  by November 29th

Professional Development Committee

Developing the Mindset for Inclusive Leadership (Module 3):
We will be holding a discussion on Module 3, which is about “Intercultural Fluency 101 & Confronting Cultural Bias” on Thursday, January 27 from 5-6 pm.  The modules are stand-alone, so you do not have to have completed the earlier modules to participate and contribute to the Module 3 discussion. We hope you’ll join us!

When: Thursday, January 27th @ 5pm
Where: Via Teams

Advocacy Committee

Virtual Speaker Event:
Our SWE CI Advocacy Committee is hosting a virtual speaking event on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 from 4-5 p.m. J. Jaz Park, an Illinois-licensed attorney in employment law and a Diversity & Inclusion leader, will present on the topic of the landscape of gender parity as regards pay issues: non-competes and recent pay equity protections. The speaker fee is being covered by WE Local Pieronek Memorial Policy Grant Award. More details will be shared in January. 

When: Thursday, February  3rd 
Where: On Teams


Work Life Integration Committee

Galantine's Day with SWE Central Illinois:
Connect with your Central Illinois SWEsters for a Galantine's Day event to be scheduled on Sunday, February 13th, 2022. More details will be forthcoming in the weekly SWE CI emails as well as a chance to vote on the type of event that interests you. The SWE CI Work Life Integration Committee will host an art/craft/trivia afternoon filled with chocolate, wine and a special surprise courtesy of one of members. 

When: Sunday, February  13th 
Where: TBD


Member Spotlight - Kara Kessling

Kara Kessling is a Machine Performance Simulation Engineer at Caterpillar.

Tell us about your position: 
I'm part of the Virtual Product Development group at Caterpillar. It's a pretty cool group because it utilizes so many of the technology products that we develop to test and validate our products. In my work as a Machine Performance Simulation engineer, I work with a physics based machine model at the L6 level, integrated with an operator model and a soil/environment model. We perform virtual on machine load analysis, on machine stress analysis, ride comfortability and a variety of other tests and events on these models to reduce necessary field testing- decreasing cost and increasing efficiency for CPI and NPI projects.

What attracted you to a STEM Career?: 
I've always enjoyed math, and thought both chemistry and physics are interesting and fun. I'm passionate about sustainability and when I was younger I liked thinking of creative ideas to help the environment, which lead me to look at environmental engineering in middle school. In high school I was told that environmental would probably be more legal work and EPA regulations, which didn't interest me, so I shifted my focus to civil engineering. It seemed like a great alternative, because I really enjoy the process of building static structures, it involves math and science and I could still be creative in it. One of my favorite toys growing up was Lincoln Logs, and I've been going on an annual mission trip since I was 13 to help people through home construction & repair, so it was more of a natural fit too. At UIUC I was able to take classes that focused on structures and some that focused on sustainability, which was really great.

Who is your inspiration?: 
Personally, I don't have one person who stands out as an inspiration. All of the women who have gone before me into fields where they were told they couldn't or shouldn't deserve a lot of kudos and have made it possible for the rest of us. I think my inspiration came from this- wanting to show that yes, I could do it. When I told people my plans I got shocked expressions and biased comments, like 'YOU'RE going to be an engineer?!' or 'well are you sure. It's really hard' and 'that's such a male dominated field', and I used those as motivation throughout high school and college.

Why did you decide to join SWE?: 
I initially joined SWE in college. I went to Illinois Central College before University of Illinois and was the only female in my classes. I heard about SWE there, but at that time 2 year institutions weren't allowed to have chapters, so it was something I was looking forward to once I transferred. It was nice to know there are so many other female engineers, and I loved all of the outreach activities that SWE put on or joined, along with the many learning opportunities that were held.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?: 
I love just about every outdoor activity and I can be pretty adventurous at times... Senior year of college I saw a flyer for a 2 week trip to Africa to volunteer and do some sightseeing, with the option to add-on an additional week to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. I paid the deposit before I could really think about it, and even though I had a ton of people tell me not to go, I thought it sounded too awesome to pass up. So I spent an incredible 3 weeks in Africa building a school, teaching English, sightseeing on Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.



To register or learn more, click on webinar below:

Career Journey Updates!

Please take a moment and share your career changes with us. Fill out the form here to include career updates in the monthly buzz newsletters. 

Donate to SWE!

It’s not too late to Donate to SWE-CI - If your company matches donations, take advantage of donating now for organizations to get matching payments. Click here for donations link!
Shop Amazon Smile - Donate to SWE

Shop at and amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to your favorite charitable organization—no fees, no extra cost. Click here to join!


Tip: Import SWE-CI's Google Calendar -- no typing needed!

Girls Who Code Sessions
Held weekly on Wednesday 
5:30 - 7 PM
Tri County Urban League, Peoria

Bloomington Area Meet-Up
Friday, December 17th
The Mystic Kitchen & Tasting Room in Downtown Bloomington
RSVP here

Developing the Mindset for Inclusive Leadership (Module 3)
Thursday, January 27th
5 - 6 PM
On Teams  
Click here to join the meeting

Advocacy Virtual Speaker Event
Thursday, February 3rd
4 - 5 PM
More details to come

Galantine's Day with WLI
Sunday, February 13th
More details to come
SWE-CI Website
Email Us
National SWE on Twitter
Missed an issue of our Monthly Buzz? Catch up with the 
Buzz Archives
Aspire Advance Achieve
Copyright © 2016 Society of Women Engineers
Central Illinois Professional Section. All rights reserved.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 96, Mossville, IL 61552

The purpose of this email is to provide monthly section sponsored activity updates to members and friends of SWE-CI.
Update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp