Stepping stone of women engineers


Stepping stone of women engineers

SWG Engineering, L.L.C., founded in 1945 with a mission to deliver unparalleled Engineering services in South Texas, specializes in large, municipal projects. SWG’s projects include  Sharyland Water Supply Corporation’s Water Treatment Plants I, II, and III, McAllen Water Treatment Plant II, and the new Mercedes Anaquitas Aqueduct.

Over the years, the firm has sought to give back and empower the community through their internship program.  The annual summer internship is targeted towards high school students who have at least one year of engineering college credits and to college students studying engineering.

SWG’s interns have helped strengthen the firm’s bond with the community.  Interns work on real engineering projects under the supervision of licensed engineers.  This past summer SWG welcomed their first female intern, Natalie Lerma, a Harlingen native who is studying mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station.

It’s no secret that engineering is a male-dominated field.  Few women work in the field, and around 40% of them eventually leave the profession.  Lerma has overcome obstacles as a woman studying engineering.  “I feel like you have to prove yourself more. When a professor addresses the group, he will mainly address guys.  You just have to work harder.”

There are still glass ceilings left in many professions, including the field of engineering.  Randy Winston, P.E., SWG president, described Natalie’s internship.  “We were able to focus her studies so that she has real goals associated with her classes and applied to real life examples.”

Lerma thrived during the internship. “I had a great vibe at the office.  I was always excited to go to work.  I never felt embarrassed to ask questions.”  Engineers at the office work with interns them one on one, enabling them to learn and expand their engineering knowledge and skills.

Lerma said the best part of the internship was the engineering. “Once you’re in engineering, you see things differently,” because engineering isn’t just about mathematical equations. It requires creativity to solve the problems that engineers face on a day-to-day basis.  Women engineers bring their own creativity to the field and offer different solutions to problems than men do.

Lerma believes the internship is a stepping stone to where she wants to be one day.  SWG believes that stepping stone can lead to a field where both women and men flourish and contribute their own unique views and creativity to problems and projects.

To find out more about SWG and the internship program, see   

By Christian Winston