University of Tennessee, Knoxville Connects with the Society of Women Engineers


From competition sponsors to STEM education organizations, working with outside groups is extremely important to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) EcoCAR 2 Team. One organization the group is particularly proud to work with is the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a non-profit organization that helps female engineers network and connect with companies. Three of the UTK EcoCAR 2 Team’s female members are also active members of SWE, which gives the team a strong link to the organization.

One is Paige Black, a mechanical engineer working on the design team. Paige is a senior this year and has work experience outside of EcoCAR 2. She has worked with BorgWarner, a company globally recognized for its powertrain technology, and with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a multipurpose science and energy laboratory. Paige remarked that “the most important thing I have learned from others in EcoCAR 2 and in SWE is to use others’ experiences to your benefit. You are not going to be good at everything, but chances are someone else on your team has skills you lack.” Paige is currently working on the former Challenge X Chevrolet Equinox vehicle’s powertrain, and is specifically investigating the start/stop functions of the engine for urban driving.

Another Team Tennessee and SWE member is Helene Rynczak. She is the current President of SWE and serves on the communications team for UTK EcoCAR 2. At UTK, she is a senior in biomedical engineering and a Peer Career Advisor at Career Services. Regarding SWE, she remarked that “working with SWE ladies, I’ve learned to embrace opportunity whenever I can. SWE members aren’t afraid of taking chances and having new experiences.” She is currently working on Team Tennessee’s web design, blog and social media platforms in order to improve her communications and programming skills.

The final Team Tennessee SWE member is Karson Stone, a freshman in mechanical engineering who is also in the Chancellor’s Honors Program. Karson plans to focus on automotive engineering later in her college career. “Through working with the EcoCAR 2 team and SWE, I’ve met so many people who have shared their knowledge about engineering and how to be a better team player – which is more than I would have ever learned in just the classroom,” she said. She is currently works on the communications team, which lets her put her communications and technical writing skills to work.