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As a woman in engineering, challenges lie ahead. But UIC knows that you have what it takes to make it happen! We’ve created a special Saturday event for female freshmen and sophomores that is designed to help you target and work through any obstacles you might encounter in your future classes and career.

Mark your calendar for April 13, 2019. In five short hours on campus, you will make connections with engineers and executives from Knowles Corporation and other firms, learn new strategies for success, and develop a clear vision of where your UIC degree can take you.

We are grateful for the support of Knowles, which also sponsors scholarships for female UIC Engineering students and the Women in Engineering Summer Program. The company is a longstanding advocate of women in engineering.

The workshop is open on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage you to join us!


If you are a female freshman or sophomore majoring in engineering or computer science at UIC, this event is for you! We have mapped out an agenda that will give you the outlook and skills you need to make it happen in your classwork, your future job, and life in general.


Student Center East

750 South Halsted Street

Chicago, IL 60607

Room 605 (SCE Tower)


9:15 a.m. Breakfast

10:00 a.m. Welcome and overview

10:15 a.m. Professional women in engineering panel

11:30 a.m. Finding the right mentor

12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)

12:45 p.m. Triumph through adversity

1:30 p.m. Stretching out your stress

2:30 p.m. Networking reception

4:00 p.m. Conclusion

Session Details

Finding the right mentor

It’s not just about finding a mentor—it’s about finding the right mentor! This interactive workshop with Rebekah Kane, a certified professional coach, and life/work balance coach to entrepreneurs at 1871, will help you identify the important qualities of a mentor and understand the role a mentor can play in helping you to realize your career and life goals.

Triumph through adversity

You must fail to succeed! Bich-Thuy Le, UIC alumna and director of data science and analytics engineering at Allstate, explains how she overcomes moments of adversity and why she values these opportunities to grow. Learn how you can do the same.

Work and life balance

Led by the UIC Wellness Center

Work and life: is there a difference between the two? Most people answer “no!” but they should be answering “yes!” Through this workshop, learn strategies and techniques to regain control over your personal life and your free time. See the differences among the roles you play at work, home, and other places and find out how you can benefit from keeping them separate.


Participants will have a chance to meet, hear from, and network with four major supporters of women in engineering and UIC—one of whom is a UIC alumnus and three of whom are rising women in engineering and technology. Expand the sections below to read bios of our four event leaders.

Jeff Niew, who earned his BS in mechanical engineering from UIC, has worked for Knowles since 2000, rising to become president and chief executive officer. On his way to the CEO position, he held various roles in the company, including chief operating officer. Before his tenure at Knowles, Mr. Niew worked for five years at Littelfuse, Inc., where he held various positions in product management, sales, and engineering in the electronic products group, and for six years at Hewlett-Packard Company, where he served in engineering and product management capacities in the optoelectronics group.

As Knowles’ chief executive officer, Mr. Niew is responsible for long-term strategy, planning, and performance. In more than 18 years with the company, including about a decade in senior positions, Mr. Niew has gained considerable management experience and has developed a deep understanding of Knowles’ products, technologies, customers, markets, and operations. His offers highly valued insight on business strategy, capital allocation, transactions, and succession planning, among other corporate matters.

In addition to his work at Knowles, Mr. Niew serves as a director of Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc., and as president of the UIC Engineering advisory board.

Cheryl Shavers has been chairman and chief executive officer of Global Smarts, Inc., since 2001. Global Smarts is an advisory services and strategy firm that specializes in integrating capital, technology, and information across national borders. Mrs. Shavers has extensive experience with technology development, innovation, and management and is a highly regarded business expert.

Prior to her work at Global Smarts, Mrs. Shavers served as the undersecretary of commerce for technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where she oversaw the Office of Technology Policy and the Technology Administration, the focal point for partnerships between the U.S. government and the private sector around commercial and industrial innovation, productivity, and economic growth. She also oversaw the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Technical Information Service, and the Office of Space Commercialization. Earlier in her career, she held a variety of roles at Intel Corporation and Hewlett-Packard, including director of emerging technologies and sector manager of the microprocessor products group for Intel.

Chris Davis a founder and chairman of the board of ANGARI Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation that actively supports marine science research and education using its research vessel R/V ANGARI. Prior to this role, Ms. Davis was a general partner from 2005 to 2012 at Forstmann Little & Co., where she focused on major investments in 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Inc., the world’s largest fitness center company, and ENK International, a leading tradeshow organization servicing the fashion marketplace. She served as chairman of the board of 24 Hour Fitness and as chairman of the executive committee of the board of ENK International. From 2005 to 2010, she was actively involved with Forstmann Little’s investment in IMG Worldwide, the world’s premier sports, entertainment, and media company, serving on its board of directors and as the company’s president.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Davis held executive roles at McLeodUSA, ONI Systems, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, and General Electric. She also has served on the boards of directors of Rockwell Collins, Cytec Industries, Aviall, Compaq Computer, and Wolverine Tube.

Kathy Haas is a senior program manager at Knowles. She started her engineering career as a process development engineer and engineering manager at Motorola Inc., and she then moved into program management, which has been her focus for the last 17 years. Ms. Haas has a bachelor of science degree in materials science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is currently working in research and development, taking new products from design concept to mass production in Penang, Malaysia.

Alyssa Kueffner is a senior microelectromechanical systems engineer at Knowles, where she develops microphones for consumer electronics. She is a 2012 and 2014 graduate of Bradley University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. Ms. Kueffner’s research passion—and the topic of her master’s thesis—is the study of tribology of microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS. As a student, she held internships at Navistar and Knowles. Ms. Kueffner lives with her husband in Bull Valley, Illinois, and serves as vice president of membership for the Chicago regional section of the Society of Women Engineers. She has been a member of SWE since 2008 and was actively involved with her college chapter.

Rebekah Kane is a certified life purpose and career coach specializing in career and life transitions. She is principal coach and founder of Tell a New Story Coaching. She has coached and trained hundreds of people of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, from university students and early-career professionals to career changers, on how to navigate their unique job, career, and life transitions with greater ease and success. Ms. Kane’s holistic approach empowers people to honor the “space in between” amid challenging transitions in life and career. She walks clients through fears and “stuck places” to be able to take action toward their goals.

Ms. Kane has experience in public education and teaching, nonprofit program management, career services in higher education, and adult learning and development. She holds an MA in intercultural relations and training from Lesley University and a BA in sociology and education from Clark University. She is a graduate of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and a member of the International Coaches Federation.

Bich-Thuy Le, BS ’91, earned her undergraduate degree in computer science at UIC and is now director of data science and analytics engineering at Allstate. She has a passion for innovative solutions and finds challenges irresistible. Whether she is building a global enterprise platform for Fortune 500 companies across industries or designing highly effective organizations, Ms. Le leverages leading-edge technologies to optimize and transform businesses. Today, she oversees data scientists and engineers at Allstate who develop customized, advanced analytics and artificial-intelligence platforms at the enterprise level.

Ms. Le has received awards and recognition for her leadership and product innovation. When she is not providing mentoring through the Society of Women Engineers, MATTER Chicago Innovation Mentors, and Chicago Innovations Women Co-Op Mentorship, she is often romping around the great outdoors with her husband and two daughters, using her family as guinea pigs for her cooking, or pushing her comfort zone by joining book clubs that take her away from the science fiction and fantasy genres.

Have questions about the event? Please contact Elsa Soto, UIC Engineering’s director of women in engineering programs, at