Aspiring women engineers share research at regional conference

UB women STEM students attend WE Local; graduate student finishes third in poster competition

woman receives award

Kristina Macro (left) accepts her third place award in the WE Local Collegiate Competition.

By Sarah D'Iorio

Published June 28, 2018

“I really enjoyed being inspired by fellow attendees and the keynote speakers to continue following my dream of making a difference in the world as an engineer.”
Kristina Macro, MS Student
Civil Engineering

Industry tours, research presentations, and opportunities for networking were all on the agenda for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) 2018 WE Local Conference, attended by seven UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences students.

WE Local conferences, which take place in several locations around the world, were introduced in 2017 as a way to bring the excitement, energy and learning environment of SWE's annual conference right to the member's backyard. UB students attended WE Local Providence, Rhode Island on April 19-22, 2018.

Madeline Donegan, an industrial and systems engineering undergraduate, was one of several UB students who found the conference to be a valuable experience, especially when it came to the networking sessions.

“Events like this are important in twofold: to motivate women to continue to study engineering with the support of other women in the field, and build the important connections to find internships and careers once you graduate,” Donegan said.

For computer science undergraduate student Saumya Pandey, the conference helped reassure her of her chosen career path and gave her a chance to meet other talented students and engineers. One of the most interesting parts of the event, she said, was a tour with FM Global.

“I never really knew there were companies like FM Global to tackle hazards like windstorms, earthquakes, and fires. Visiting different labs and getting to know about the different ways to help prepare and protect facilities and people was awesome. It was a wonderful experience overall,” Pandey said.

In addition to Donegan and Pandy, attendees from UB included Alisa Delaj (Mechanical Engineering), Ceira Dawson (Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering), Christine Ma (Chemical and Biological Engineering), Kristina Macro (MS, Civil Engineering) and Colleen Mroz (Chemical and Biological Engineering).

Macro, whose studies are concentrated in environmental and water resources engineering, won third place in the event’s Collegiate Competition. Her poster presentation and lightning talk were dedicated to her research on the optimization of green infrastructure (GI) projects, specifically rain barrels, in Buffalo neighborhoods. She is collaborating with the Buffalo Sewer Authority to develop a new multi-objective optimization tool for planning purposes.

According to Macro, the results have shown that rain barrels can effectively reduce the number and volume of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) events, and that the continued development of OSTRICH-SWMM as a decision support tool shows promise.

“I really enjoyed taking on the challenge of presenting my research to people from different backgrounds, learning how to build a successful career, and being inspired by fellow attendees and the keynote speakers to continue following my dream of making a difference in the world as an engineer,” said Macro.