We celebrated our Jumpstart Fellows accomplishment  with families, mentors and sponsors on May 11th, 2024 at MassRobotics headquarters in Boston. 

The Jumpstart Fellowship Program was founded with the goal to grow a more diverse robotics and tech pipeline, more specifically, the program focuses on high school females. During a five-month Saturday curriculum the fellows learn all aspects of engineering that drive the robotics field including CAD (SolidWorks), Programming, Simulation, Fabrication and use of prototyping equipment.  A large part of the program also explores soft skills, use of LinkedIn, resumes, and exposure to females in tech at all stages of their careers who provide weekly mentorship and advice.  When students complete this portion of curriculum they’ve built a strong network of females in the robotics and tech industries.

Founded in 2021, the annual program has been funded through grants received from La Fondation Dassault Systèmes, and The Cummings Foundation.

Now in its 4th year, the program has expanded this year to include a group of students from the Lowell area, thanks to the support of Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the UMass Lowell NERVE Center.  Additional support came from Natalie Brown and the Analog Devices Foundation.

Saturday’s event was a celebration of the students’ achievements throughout the 5-month program.  Thanks were given to program coordinators and the many mentors who provided technical expertise  and advice during the program.  Specific shout outs to Rachael Naoum – CSWE, from SolidWorks who has been providing curriculum and support for 4 years, Betsy Jasper who worked with the students on several weekends sharing her expertise in CNC and machining, and to Roman Lilligren, who has also been our hand-tools and workshop expert.  Other experts who provided curriculum during the sessions included Rich Breault, Michelle Stanfield, Gwenda Law, Kristen J. Bates and Janelle Clark.  Many others from industry also provided mentorship during our Saturday sessions.

Representative students from each cohort shared their reflections of the program – what they learned and what they took away from the experience:

“I am pleased to be one of the first girls of the Lowell Cohort. It was good to know that I’m not the only inexperienced person there, nor was I the only one nervous. I feel lucky to experience this time with Alethea and Joyce as we all learned how to work the cohort together. It was a little rough at times, but with mentors like them, we were able to get through those adversities. 

I am lucky to have the opportunity to be one of the girls in the first ever Lowell Cohort of the MassRobotics Jumpstart fellowship. This experience wouldn’t have been possible or as good without Alethea and Joyce. This fellowship is amazing as it broadened my personal experience, as well as others in the cohort. There is just so much to learn here, not just in the STEM, but also in life. I’m glad to know that this program is available to us, girls, and I look forward to see it grow in the future.



I’ve learned so much from this program, but the most important lesson that I’ve learned has to be regarding communication and taking up space. Before this program, I hardly spoke out about anything, mostly because I felt like I had no chance to do so. However, seeing the different women from different industries like meteorology and manufacturing, I feel more confident in myself to talk. Even now, I feel a little shy, but I’m trying my best to step out of my comfort zone so I can be like them and maybe one day be someone’s role model like they are to me. With support from Joyce and especially Alethea, I am able to things like this, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the use of the fireside chats we would have with our guests and mentors.

For the past few weeks, we have been working on our final projects at the Lowell Cohort. We’ve spent a week working on planning our projects, looking at the potential materials and ideas that we would like to create. We used the different resources and CAD software like SOLIDWORKS to digitally fabricate our work. A couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit the FabLab center at Dassault Systems and even use the different machines like the 3D printers to bring our work to life. This has been a great learning experience for all of us as we finally had the chance to put our skills to the test and proudly say that we’ve created something.

This program is an amazing opportunity for all of us and I would like to thank not just the mentors and staff, but also our sponsors. None of this would have been possible without the support of anyone here.” – Alexis, Cohort 4, Lowell

“We have had the privilege of learning from amazing mentors and experts, donating their time, as individuals who are invested in our success and fostering our futures in STEM. In addition to myriad of technical skills we have learned, JumpStart is focused on developing us as a whole person. This program has prepared us to interact with professionals, ask questions, and how to carry ourselves through to the futures we want to lead.

My favorite part of Jumpstart, is getting to know and grow with these awesome fellow girls. Collaborating with other females and problem solving in a space that is meant for our success. This is a community built unlike any other I’ve experienced. It is different from our male dominated STEM classes or just a regular program focused on learning how to solder, we are learning how to work with one another to chase our STEM dreams. That is what makes jumpstart so special, because of the mentors and resources, Jumpstart doesn’t just teach but it is building the leaders of tomorrow.” – Rabecca, Cohort 4, Boston

“For the last 5 months, I’ve spent my Saturday’s at MassRobotics with all these wonderful girls! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to explore the robotics/engineering industry while learning about SolidWorks, CAD, soldering, and many more hand tools for engineering.

I would like to thank Kevin Smith, Joyce Sidopoulos, Alethea Campbell, Ed.M., and all the female mentors that have made this fun & educational.

I’m looking forward to continuing to build the relationships and the skills that I’ve gained through this internship. Thank you MassRobotics! “- Emily, Cohort 4, Boston

After each Fellow was awarded a medal and their stipends (Supported by MassTech Collaborative), all shared a celebratory cake. 

What’s next for the Fellows?  In June the Fellows will begin their summer internships.  We’ll host a reunion in August where the students will share their experiences with each other and provide updates on future plans.

Thanks again to our mentors for spending a Saturday or more with us.  The impact of mentors is a large part of this program and truly helps the students grow.  Thanks also to the many industries  who opened their doors for field trips – first-hand experience seeing operations is eye-opening and provides a new look into career opportunities : Amazon Fulfillment Technologies & Robotics, Brooks Automation, GreenSight, Ava Robotics, New Balance, MITRE, Teledyne FLIR. Desktop Metal, Shell Techworks, OMRON Group, Cirtronics Corporation, Lightspeed MFG, Segue Manufacturing Services | ElectroMech, Cable & Harness, PCBA | Made-in-USA & China Solutions, MIT Media Lab, UMass Lowell NERVE Center, EXPLO, Sea Machines Robotics, Odeh Engineers, Fabwright Origins, LLC, SOLIDWORKS.

Learn more about MassRobotics STEM here.