MassRobotics Jumpstart Fellowship Program

Posted by on Mar 4, 2021 in Robotics | No Comments
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MassRobotics Jumpstart Fellowship Program

There has been a steady growth of robotics companies and an increase in the adoption of robotics in nearly every industry sector, from farming and construction to medical and e-commerce. The current talent pipeline is not adequate to support these increases: nearly every robotics company is actively hiring and in search of talent! We know that girls, especially Black and Latinx girls, are not represented well in the robotics tech sector and we believe that with encouragement, access to custom tech prep sessions and the right combination of mentors, we can change this.

Currently, the STEM workforce in Massachusetts suffers from a lack of diversity. In the Massachusetts technology sector, which includes STEM and the robotics industry, only five percent of workers are Black, seven percent are Latinx, and one third are women, according to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.

We challenge the belief that we have a shortage of talent in Massachusetts. Rather, the MassRobotics team asserts that providing technical training, mentoring, and access to professional networks will cultivate the talent and perspective that is currently lacking in the sector. We assert that by setting women of color up for success in the tech/engineering field, they will more likely pursue these disciplines for their professional careers.

Introducing the MassRobotics Jumpstart Fellowship Program!

We created the new Jumpstart Fellowship Program, currently in its pilot year, to provide opportunities for diverse Massachusetts high school girls to learn about careers in robotics and develop their professional networks through direct engagement with industry professionals. The curriculum exposes young women to the many technical skills in areas that are included in the robotics industry, from programming to design and simulation, to hands-on building, prototyping and testing. The program also includes mentorship to help develop a more inclusive technical workforce by preparing diverse talent in high school to pursue careers in STEM and robotics.

THE PROGRAM GOAL: encourage and empower diverse high school girls to pursue a career in robotics and promote the diversity of the robotics workforce in Massachusetts.

HOW? By providing opportunities for diverse Massachusetts high school girls to:

  • Learn about careers in robotics by meeting and touring robotics companies and speaking with professionals in the field.
  • Develop a professional network via mentors and developing resumes, LinkedIn profiles and practicing social skills,
  • Gain exposure to the many technical skills and areas that are included in the robotics industry – from programming to design and simulation, to hands-on building, prototyping and testing.
  • Receive $1000 stipend on completion of the program!!

Program Design and Curriculum Map

The cohort will begin during the week of April 19-23, 2021 and will meet daily at the MassRobotics offices in Boston, MA. They will then have weekly in-person meetings on Saturdays (May-June 2021), as well as weekly Zoom check-ins with program staff and mentors (approximately 1.5 hours/week). From June-August 2021, the cohort will be placed at their paid internships with partner companies. The MassRobotics team and mentors will also be checking in with the girls on a weekly basis throughout their internship time. Every two weeks during the summer internship, the cohort will meet to share experiences, meet with mentors and participate in group/team activities.

The main components to the program include:

  • Training & Curriculum – Professional (networking exercises, resume development) and technical training with hands-on experiences in design (using engineering models and tools), fabrication (including soldering, use of hand tools and 3D printing) and coding basics.
  • Mentorship – Students and their mentors (professionals in the robotics and tech industry) will be matched together in a one-on-one, ongoing dialogue on careers in robotics. Students will learn directly from their mentor about the different types of robotics jobs and how to leverage their studies into a career in robotics through personal meetings, video chats and phone calls.
  • Internships – All students will be given the opportunity to receive paid internships at technology companies participating in the program. All students will visit each company to learn about their business and be assigned mentors at the companies as well.

The curriculum includes the expertise from some of our partners and friends at SolidWorks, MathWorks, Lightspeed Manufacturing and GreenSight.

All female high school juniors/seniors, especially those who are Black and Latinx, with a passion for robotics and technology are encouraged to apply.

Applications for students are open thru March 31. Apply here.

Acceptance criteria and requirements:

  • Must be enrolled in a Massachusetts high school during the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • Teacher recommendation letter.
  • Must be able to meet during the designated training times.
  • Must be able to meet with mentor for a minimum of one hour every two weeks.

Learn more at one of our student information sessions on March 13 at 11:00 a.m.,  March 18 at 4:30 p.m., March 25 at 4:00 p.m.  Register here.

Join us as a mentor!

We welcome collaboration and mentorship for our first cohort of fellows! Mentoring a fellow involves building a relationship and being a resource as the cohort enters the professional tech world. Your experience and perspective will prove invaluable! We are looking for mentors who:

  • Currently work in the tech sector or are enrolled as a STEM major at a college or university and are committed to the work of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Are willing to check in with their fellow on a weekly basis (approximately 30 minutes/week) from April 2021-August 2021.
  • Are willing to share their experience in the tech sector with the cohort.

We will have a pre-meeting for mentors in early April 2021.

Register here to be considered as a mentor, we will host additional information sessions in the future.

We also welcome the partnership of the community! Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Host Two Fellows at Your Company – Our goal is to introduce as many young women of color to the robotics and tech sector, but to also create the space for them to have an impact. Contact Joyce@MassRobotics.org  if you’d like to host a pair of girls for a paid internship this summer!
  • Sponsor a Fellow – Students will be provided a stipend at the end of the training program as well as reimbursed for transportation to MassRobotics for the training sessions. If you would like to help sponsor the program, or a student, please contact Joyce@MassRobotics.org.
  • Sponsor Technology/Overhead – For Cohort I we are interested in providing access to (2) 3-D printers and components. Please let us know if you are interested in providing these resources.

Contact Joyce Sidopoulos (Joyce@MassRobotics.org) if you’re interested in any of the opportunities listed above.

We look forward to sharing progress with the community in the near future!

A special Thank You to Joel Pedlikin and the GreenSight team, who were the impetus behind this program. They have provided demonstrations and career discussions for our past drone camps and have been hiring High School students for internships.  They will be providing Jumpstart fellowships for students this summer and have been instrumental in helping develop our program, as well as introduced us to The Boston Foundation who sponsored our initial programming and proposal design.


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