MassRobotics had the pleasure of hosting a group of high school students from Boston Design Academy. Boston Design Academy (BDA) is a city-sponsored pilot designed to prepare Boston youth for careers in Boston’s growing design economy. BDA is immersive summer program with 25 students from TechBoston Academy. Over the course of the six weeks, BDA students focus on product design and development while exploring STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics—subject matter. On a typical day, students are presented with a design challenge and asked to use product design methods and tools to solve the challenge. At each step of the way, students integrate STEAM concepts and principles, and have the opportunity to visit local tech hotspots, including MassRobotics.

While visiting MassRobotics, students spoke with Joyce Sidopoulos, Director of Community and Programs, about how robotics, particularly in Boston, are deployed in collaboration with humans in the workforce and in both current and future applications. She also discussed the variety of opportunities available in the robotics community, from designers to engineers.

Russell Nickerson, our Laboratory Manager, spoke to the students about his career in robotics and impressed upon them the importance of being “versatile and creative” and that it “takes a team to build and run a robot.”

The students learned about Rethink’s Sawyer, a collaborative robot designed and manufactured locally and received a demonstration of MITRE’s Pepper robot which is made by Softbank Robotics. They also got the chance to interact with the Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, guiding the arm’s motion into their own pattern, and then watched as the robot repeated the trained motion seconds later. Students also learned about NASA’s Valkyrie Robot and the future of employing robots for space exploration and missions…and of course had to pose for a photo with her!