Women Engineers Rise

Read the full article on the College of Engineering website. Start reading about Sirena Merfalen, Uloma Okoro, and Yuliana Flores below…

Since the 1980s, Women Engineers Rise (WE Rise) has been dedicated to centering the experiences of women in the College of Engineering. Over the past year, the comprehensive program has expanded to also highlight nonbinary engineering professionals.

Formerly known as Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE), WE Rise is one of the College’s Programs for Inclusive Excellence. Open to all students, the program offers students mentorship opportunities, advising and tutoring, leadership development and community building. Each spring, the WE Rise annual conference brings together area high school, undergraduate and graduate students with engineering leaders across the UW and in industry. Workshops invite students to explore a range of topics, including gender diversity in tech, demystifying graduate school, power dynamics in the workplace, managing feelings of impostership, leadership styles and strategies, and experiencing the STEM workplace environment as a person of color.

Here, three UW engineering alums share how WE Rise helped set them up for their professional careers as engineers, what they remember most about the program from their time as undergraduates, and why they continue to stay involved with WE Rise today.

Sirena Merfalen, Customer Engineering Manager, The Boeing Company
B.S., 2013, and M.S., 2018, Industrial & Systems Engineering

What do you do at Boeing?

I manage engineering teams that support our airline customers worldwide. When customers place orders for airplanes, we work with them to customize our products to fit their needs. From curating the passenger experience to addressing accessibility concerns with restrooms on board, we’re involved from start to finish—from the initial design conversations to final take-off.

What do you remember most about WE Rise as a student?

Industry nights with guest speakers, teas and luncheons to practice networking and communication skills-building, resume writing workshops, mock interviews—the list is long! I especially appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into speaker selection. Guest speakers weren’t afraid to be candid about their experiences as students and in the workplace. Often I could see myself in many of them. WE Rise also introduced me to a community of women supporting other women. I am still friends with many people I met in the program. Quite a few of us continue to volunteer with WE Rise today. 

By Meaghan Wood (She/Her)
Meaghan Wood (She/Her) Career Coach