Annual PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge Gives Undergraduates Real-World Engineering Experience

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and PepsiCo kick off this year’s PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge, an annual competition that challenges undergraduate students to deliver innovative ideas and technical solutions in response to real-life business challenges. Teams will compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to present their ideas in Anaheim, California at WE19, one of the largest professional development and networking conferences for women in engineering.

“Globally, over 32 percent of women switch out of STEM degree programs in college and only 30 percent of women who earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering are still working in that field 20 years later. To better educate and prepare young women for STEM careers, we are inviting students to participate in our engineering challenge,” said Annette Plieninger, Senior Research & Development Project Manager, PepsiCo. “With our fifth annual challenge, we’re encouraging our future engineers to use their skills and explore fresh approaches to develop solutions to real-life engineering problems.”

Now through July 5, 2019, undergraduate teams comprised of up to four participants are encouraged to participate in the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge by responding to one of the three following challenges:

  • eCommerce: Design and develop a PepsiCo eCommerce product along with an innovative method to deliver it to the consumer.
  • Zero Waste: Processing Tropicana orange juice results in a significant amount of orange peels, which can be made into a variety of by-products. Design a process to extract more value from the peels.
  • Process Optimization: PepsiCo’s Food for Good initiative makes healthy food more physically and financially accessible for low-income families. As the program expands, it is looking for ways to improve its cleaning processes. Develop an optimized process to clean the transport totes.

The top three innovations will be selected as finalists and the teams will be invited to present their submissions to a judging panel of PepsiCo R&D leaders at WE19. The winning team will be announced among WE19 attendees during SWE’s “Celebrate SWE!” event.

“The PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge is an excellent way to engage our future generation of engineers and uncover fresh innovation that can be used in real world applications,” said Karen Horting, CEO and executive director of SWE. “We look forward to another year of working with our bright collegiate students on this challenge.”

More than 14,000 women engineers are expected at WE19. The conference and career fair are an opportunity for the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge participants to explore graduate school opportunities with leading universities, meet hiring managers from major engineering companies and engage in educational and interactive discussions and events to help women on their career paths in engineering. 

To learn more about the PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge, including a detailed description of the challenges, submission rules, deadlines and judging criteria, please visit

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