UW-Madison student places second in nationwide engineering contest

December 21, 2016 By Will Hoverman
Anna Scheibengraber, left, a UW–Madison senior, receives her second place award at the 016 PepsiCo/Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Student Engineering Challenge.

Anna Scheibengraber, left, a UW–Madison senior, receives her second place award from Society of Women Engineers President Jessica Rannow at the 2016 PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge. Submitted photo

Anna Scheibengraber, a fifth-year senior studying Mechanical Engineering at UW–Madison, was one of eight students from across the nation to receive an award for “exceptional thinking and innovation” during the PepsiCo/Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Student Engineering Challenge.

“As the only individual competitor, Anna demonstrated an exceptional poise and command of her subject matter while presenting to PepsiCo Judges at SWE’s Annual Conference, WE16,” says Honna George, fund development manager at the SWE.

Scheibengraber, from Sussex, Wis., engineered a device and controls package to monitor performance of fountain machines to reduce costs and emissions. As the second place winner, Anna received $250, and the opportunity to present her solution during an all-expense-paid trip to Philadelphia for WE16.

“I was the only solo presenter — the other teams had 3 and 4 people, mixtures of men and women.” says Scheibengraber. “I enjoyed meeting them, and we spent quite a bit of time together. It was funny, because each team was so interested in what everyone else had done”

Many institutions are seeking to close the gender gap in certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, but the Madison Chapter of SWE seems to be thriving.

“There are more and more women involved in engineering and STEM fields every day.,” says Christy Remucal, the advisor for the Madison chapter of SWE and assistant professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.  “Still, we have a long way to go to improve our ability to retain women in STEM fields and achieve equity….the general trend is positive and I am optimistic that we will get there, especially with strong female leaders emerging in younger generations.”

For Scheibengraber, her passion for started in high school.

“I have always enjoyed and been good at math and science, but my first real introduction to engineering was a pre-college engineering program over a weekend at UW Platteville,” says Scheibengraber. “A group of four of us and a professor made an artificial knee joint using SolidWorks and quite a bit of analysis.”

Scheibengraber has been involved in SWE in varying capacities since her freshman year. As a past leader of their Tech Team, she and her team worked with private sector partners like Fiskars and Sub-Zero Wolf. Furthermore, she attended last year’s national conference in Nashville to present her project and represent UW–Madison at the Boeing Team Tech competition.

According to Remucal, SWE gives engineering students an opportunity to become leaders (it is mainly a student-run organization) and also provides opportunities for networking, both at UW and with the industry. It also provides a great support network for its members through programs such as the peer mentoring program. SWE is also extremely active in giving back to the community through outreach events, such as partnering with the girl scouts, doing outreach at schools, and participating in a variety of community service events.