Russell R. O’Neill Service Award


Emily Paluch
is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering, received the Russell R. O’Neill Distinguished Service Award. As a senior Paluch was the president of the Society of Women Engineers at UCLA. This summer Paluch will be at Keysight Technologies in Santa Rosa, Calif, as semiconductor integrated circuit process development intern. She will return to UCLA in fall, to start a master’s degree program in materials engineering, with an emphasis on electronic materials.

What are you most proud being a part of SWE?

I am most proud about starting the Engineers for Professional Equality Conference three years ago. It has grown into an annual event and created the newest committee in SWE – the Advocacy Committee. I am also very proud to see some of the students who participated in our Women in Engineering Stayover Program for admitted female freshmen return to UCLA as engineers and host their own admits with the program.

What got you interested in materials science?

During the summer before my senior year in high school, I participated in UCLA’s High School Summer Research Program. I was randomly placed in the Materials Engineering department. Over the eight-week program, I realized that this field was a great fit for my interests in renewable energy. Once I came to UCLA, I identified electronic materials in particular as my preferred area of study through research and the Electronic Option courses.

Do you have advice for engineering students who also want to participate in student organizations or activities?

During your freshman year, take advantage of all the opportunities available – try out multiple clubs including ones not related to engineering (I was highly involved in the Film and Photography Society before focusing my attention on SWE). By your third year, find one or two clubs that you are passionate about and get involved with their leadership. This not only helps the clubs, but it also develops your soft-skills and management skills which are critical for industry and academic work but not often taught in class.

And do you have advice for incoming students who are women? Or girls who are interested in studying in a STEM field?

Never deny yourself the opportunity to pursue something you love because you are female. If you are passionate about the subject, your peers and professors will notice your hard work and ability. You may often be the only girl in a group project team, but that should not inhibit you from speaking up and sharing your opinions.

Also, once you enter a STEM field pass this message along to the next generation of women. We shouldn’t just stand on the shoulders of giants; we need to become those giants for those who follow us.