“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

– Coco Chanel

View this email in your browser
SWE-CI Monthly Buzz Header

A Note from the President
By Christiana Aguirre

SWE Central Illinois made 2021 a year to remember! As SWE-CI President, I started the year concerned and excited at the same time; how would I be able to lead such a large and important team during a pandemic? It turns out, I had no reason to worry, our team exceeded everyone’s expectations. Each committee chair, committee member, area representative, collegiate liaison, elected officer and advisory board member stepped up and did the most amazing things for our SWE section and community. This year was a year to celebrate and recognize member’s achievements and successes, to strengthen partnerships and increase collaboration with other non-profit organizations, to be open minded and listen to new ideas; to be creative and most of all to care about one another. This journey was incredible! We were not able to meet in person throughout the year, with most of our events being held virtually. The odds were that the enthusiasm and excitement of the team would fade away in this virtual world. Well, I can say that this did not happen. Our committee chairs and members worked together and helped each other out to organize 27 unique events for our members and more than 30 STEM Outreach events. Our brand-new Finance Committee did a fantastic fundraising campaign and over $ 10,000 was raised for our endowed scholarship fund. The Membership Committee came up with the most creative ideas to keep our members engaged, from hand-written welcome cards to a virtual Comic Show. The Outreach Committee mastered the virtual environment and had the kids building birdhouses, solving Rubik’s cubes, learning about data science and the list goes on and on. The Work Life Integration Committee kept our members in good spirits, and we all enjoyed yoga classes, wine tasting, craft class, hip hop dance class, end of the year celebration, trivia night and happy hours.  We had more events during this pandemic year than in any other year. I am so grateful to have had the most amazing, supportive, and smart group of women by my side during this pandemic. We successfully made it to the end! We are now getting ready for another amazing year ahead of us and with great joy, I would like to welcome our FY22 elected officers: Fiona O'Laughlin (FY22 President), Thuong Le (FY22 President-Elect), Lauren Duvall (FY22 Treasurer) and Laura Ruiz-Santamaria (FY22 Secretary).

SWE-CI Leaders

Congratulations to the new FY22 SWE-CI leadership team!

President: Fiona O'Laughlin

Fiona O’Laughlin is an active SWE member since 2014 after attending a WE Conference where she wrote her mission statement – deliver results by building up teams technically/professionally through courage/compassion. That statement sparked her desire to lean in as a collaborative, positive and authentic leader. She served as SWE-CI WLI chair (2015-2017), treasurer (2017-2019), PD co-chair (2019-2020), and President Elect (2020-2021). She believes SWE-CI’s strength is connections/friendships through networking, sharing knowledge, outreach, and instilling confidence through leading. Her passion is professional development. Fiona supports professional speakers and a calendar with dedicated months for SWE committee events. She supports additional committees organizing events for variation with a focus on an inclusive, welcoming environment for members. Fiona is an analytics manager at Caterpillar after starting as a chemist 23 years ago. She’s been a 6 Sigma Black Belt, engineering team lead, KM leader monitoring equipment, and data science program leader. She enjoys mentoring, people development, and utilizing her network to help people grow professionally. Fiona spends her free time with family, yoga, cooking, reading, and volunteering. She currently leads the Endowment committee and is Assistant Treasurer for her church. Past volunteer roles include Toastmasters President, St. Jude Runner, and church roles from Executive Board to teacher with a flair for science experiments.

President Elect: Thuong Le

Thuong is an active member of SWE-CI since 2017. Currently, she is the Advocacy co-chair. In years past, she was the elected Secretary, Professional Development co-chair, and an active member of several committees. Currently, she is an engineering team lead with responsibilities for machine controls, software verification and validation within Integrated Components and Solutions Division at Caterpillar. She is also a member of the Women’s Initiatives Network of Central Illinois Outreach Committee. For the last several years, she helped organized STEM Camp and IGTEM events at Caterpillar. The event drew over 400 local students each year; with the aim to inspire girls to pursue STEM based careers.

Thuong immigrated to the US from Vietnam at a young age. In Vietnam, education was a privilege. Many children, especially girls, dropped out of school to support their family.  As she grew up, she realized that education is the cornerstone for change and the key to empower girls and women around the world to be self-reliant. As President Elect, she would like to leverage the diverse and valuable perspective of being female and engineer to advocate for each other and to make positive impact in our own lives as well as others.

Secretary: Laura Ruiz-Santamaria

Laura has been a member of SWE for over 10 years. Today, she is a Co-Chair for the Professional Development (PD) Committee and has been instrumental to the successful launch of SWE-CI’s PD Series and in securing its funding. SWE has allowed Laura to continue sharing her passion for engineering and of being a STEM role model while advocating for diversity and inclusion in the workforce. In 2017, Laura’s efforts were recognized by the Manufacturing Institute when she was selected as a STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Award Honoree for being an advocate to women in engineering. Laura is grateful for the role models and experiences she’s been exposed to through SWE and hopes she can continue contributing as a member of the executive board.

Laura is a Material Requirements Planning Manager for Caterpillar. She grew up in central Mexico and moved to the US to continue her studies after high school. Laura attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where she earned a MS. Industrial Engineering and a BS Industrial Engineering. Laura’s career with Caterpillar started in 2012 as an intern. Since then, Laura has explored roles in Logistics, Manufacturing Engineering, Operations and Supply Chain within Caterpillar.

Treasurer: Lauren Duvall

My name is Lauren Duvall, and I have master’s degree in chemistry from Bradley University. I am currently employed in Aftertreatment Technology and Simulation Research at Caterpillar where I act as the lab manager for the catalyst testing lab. I have been a member of SWE for three years. During this time, I have served as a member on both the Professional Development and Work-Life Integration committees. This past year, I became the chair of the Finance Committee and have worked closely with the treasurer and other SWE members to develop a fundraising process and target for the SWE-CI scholarship. As treasurer, my vision would be to further streamline our chapter’s tracking of income to allow for leftover funds to go directly towards the scholarship effort. Previous experience as treasurer includes a role within Bradley University’s Chemistry Club. In my free time, I enjoy playing violin with Chamber Orchestra 309 as well as walking/running with my dogs, Gracie and Lavender.

FY21 WOW Innovation Challenge

SWE-CI has won runner up: Professional winner of the FY21 WOW! Innovation Challenge! Check our video out at: SWE-CI WOW! Innovation Challenge! 


SWE-CI Membership Spotlight: Anh Huynh

As a project lead engineer in the Operator Control group at Caterpillar Inc., I am responsible for the horns & alarms, switches, and fire suppression development.  I work closely with the suppliers to provide components for our machine applications. I have worked in areas of software validation, machine system, continuous product improvement, and machine product health. I enjoy campus recruitment and have a passion for coaching and developing my team members to reach their full potential.
My experience with SWE started when I was in college.  I wanted to connect with other women outside of my discipline to lean on one another and learn from each other.  As a member of the Professional Development committee and the Award Chair, our committees not only bring many excellent programs to our SWE members but also recognize and celebrate these amazing and passionate engineers who invest countless hours working with the children on science projects, embracing diversity, developing resilience, and building a pipeline for the STEM field.

June Events

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

Decatur SWE:

Decatur Trivia Night:

On June 24th, the Decatur Area Reps organized a get together for trivia at a local brewery. Decatur SWE took 3rd place out of 9 teams! Two new Mechanical Engineers from Decatur facility were welcomed to the SWE-CI crew.

SWE Member Sendoff Party:

Roberta Sendoff Party:

On June 10th, the SWE leadership team got together to celebrate Roberta's new job in the marketing group. Roberta was the Work Life Integration co-chair for SWE-CI and will be missed.

Work Life Integration Committee:

Yoga and Wine Tasting Event:

On June 6th, the Work Life Integration committee held a yoga and wine event at the Kickapoo Winery. We had 23 participants that got the opportunity to enjoy an hour of Yoga from Soul Healing Arts then spent time doing a wine tasting after.  The weather was beautiful and it was great to see everyone in person for the first time in over a year.

Due to the great response to the event we were able to give a donation to the SWE Scholarship fund.

Membership Committee:

Picture a Scientist: 

Several meetings between the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Leadership Team and SWE-CI Membership Committee were held to organize the movie screening of "Picture a Scientist Documentary". The negotiations with the movie company were held by SWE-CI and the cost was split with SME. SWE provided the Zoom platform. Members of both organizations, and students from Bradley University and UIUC were invited to watch the movie together through Zoom. A google form was filled by each participant and the Zoom link was then emailed to the attendees on the day of the event. For those members that were not able to watch the documentary during the Zoom meeting, the link to the movie was made available for 72 hours. Followed by the screening, members had the opportunity to discuss the movie and network. This collaboration between SWE and SME worked very well and members of both organizations were pleased with the opportunity of watching the movie together. This was the first time that SWE-CI held an event like this one on a virtual platform. Because of the success of this event and also of the great partnership between SWE-CI and SME, plans are to continue offering movie screenings in the future.

Outreach Committee:

4G STEM Camp: 

On June 28th, SWE-CI partnered with the 4G STEM Camp to talk to middle school aged girls about working as engineers for Caterpillar. The girls were able to ask questions to a panel of six female engineers and then were given materials and guidance in order to build a birdhouse. Gina Riley gave a presentation on what engineering is and what working as an engineer entails. Nicole Warnstedt then asked the panelists about their professional backgrounds in order to introduce the girls to potential fields and opportunities for them in the future. There was a brief safety discussion about personal protective equipment (PPE) with Mandy Chadwick about the safety goggles and gloves given to the girls in their kits, which Karen Raab designed to be easily assembled by the girls with help from the volunteers remotely.

STEM at Northwoods Mall: 

SWE-Central Illinois collaborated with Bradley University, in running a booth at Northwoods Mall to provide convenient access to terrific, free STEM programming. On Saturday, June 26th, Lisa Burt and Ursula Towne presented litmus testing kits, LED greeting cards, magnetic slime, cup stacking, Morse code, and cool SWE Central Illinois freebies. Approximately 35 students and 25 adults stopped by the booth to get some hands-on STEM activities with some great items to continue the learning at home. We also had 3 enthusiastic helpers from Bradley University and 1 very curious grandson in attendance.


Upcoming Events

Outreach Committee
Volunteers Needed for Rubik's Cube Workshop:

Here’s your chance to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube! SWE will provide training. The middle school students are located in California, so the sessions will be 9-10:30pm CST June 24, July 15 and July 29th

Please Signup for all SWE-CI coaches: Select all three workshop dates-  June 24, July 15, and July 29 while signing up. See weekly announcement for additional details on how to sign up.


SWE-CI Scholarship Donation Help

In 2011, the SWE-CI scholarship endowment began awarding $1000 to one female engineering student each year. Since then, the investment has grown to allow for an award stipend of $1750. To help combat the rising costs of education, SWE-CI has set a goal to grow the endowment at least $10,000 to further increase the award amount. Each member of SWE-CI should be receiving a letter in the mail with information and instructions on how to donate to this worthy cause.  Please consider donating today!



To register or learn more, click on webinar below:

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 in Spring 2021.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!

Rubik's Cube Workshop
June 24, July 15 and July 29
9.:00 - 10:30 PM CST
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