We created the MassRobotics Jumpstart Fellowship Program in 2021 to provide diverse Massachusetts high school girls with opportunities to learn about STEM careers in robotics and develop their professional networks through direct engagement with industry professionals. The program consists of three equally important components: Technical Skills, Mentorship & Networking, and Internships.

The five-month program provides them with a solid foundation of technical skills, including design, programming, fabrication, and electronics.  The students are exposed weekly to mentors and professional networking workshops and offered summer internships in local robotics and technology companies to gain real-world experience.

This year, our program was expanded to host an additional cohort in Lowell and Boston.

The public school vacation week (Feb 19-23) focused on robotics and tech company visits.  We were fortunate to have so many amazing companies offer to host and speak with our students.  The girls learned firsthand about manufacturing and fabrication, research and development, design and testing, and the multiple career paths in tech companies.  

Boston visit recap:

Each unique visit in and around the Greater Boston area showcased women in technical careers, from leaders in Academia to leaders implementing global change.

SOLIDWORKS sessions with Rachael Naoum are going amazing!! The Fellows skills are phenomenal, and will improve further the last two SOLIDWORKS focused secessions in March. Thank you Rachael as always!

Ava Robotics opened their doors to share with Jumpstart Fellows the inner workings of their telepresence robots. The Fellows were able to get an understanding of limitations and trade offs of hardware decisions, while being true to their purpose. Ava provided a great way to kick off our week full of new experiences. Thank you to Marcio Macedo and Abby Fechtman.

The Fab Foundation and the Center for Bits and Atoms at the MIT Media Lab lined up several women pursuing their PhDs creating solutions that have the potential to integrate robotic systems in novel ways. Our Fellows had the opportunity to envision themselves in environments that will further cultivate their technical expertise and creativity. Thank you Claire Doresett,  Sherry Lassiter, Amira Abdel-Rahman, Camron Blackburn, Miana Smith!

GreenSight has been an integral partner for Jumpstart and has continued to play a significant role in the program, and this vacation week was no different. Fellows were ecstatic as they had the chance to experience drones that are big and small, flying solo or with a swarm. In addition to a lively visit, the current cohort ran into a Jumpstart scholar (Boston – Cohort 3), who is currently working part time while finishing her high school degree. Thank you to Joel Pedlikin, Gwenda Law, Maria Kloiber, Kyle Sayers, Eli Davis, Ben Pedtke, Benjamin Boulsch, Mitch Jones, Mitch Jones!

MagLevAero is always exciting to have the opportunity to engage with. Fellows had their eyes opened to what could be achieved when leveraging knowledge and community expertise to bring a vision to reality. Learning about the future of transportation and drones while understanding challenges involved with creating better solutions while addressing limitations. Thank you to Ian Randall and Roman Lilligren!

Lowell visit recap:

Each unique visit in and around the Lowell area showcased women in technical careers, from entry-level to Vice Presidents of Engineering.

At New Balance, we were greeted by Sarah Mendelowitz, Manager of MADE Automation and Robotics.  Derek Cobbe led us through the steps to producing a sneaker – WOW – The manufacturing facility was eye-opening.

At Brooks Automation, we met several female engineers in various stages of their careers, from a new hire just out of college to mid-career level.  We heard about their career choices and what they loved about their current work at Brooks Automation.  We also learned about the CEO’s career, from initial technician to returning to school to earn his engineering degree.  After lunch and a guided tour from Rick Gibbs, employees led a workshop where the fellows could use tools in the workshop. Thank you to Lisa Ritcher, Kayla  Bell, Michaela Freed, Cynthia; Zatlokowicz, Lillian Stewart, Erika  Beherrell, Jenn Mangano, and Rick Gibbs!

At Desktop Metal, the fellows met Jonah Myerberg, Founder and CTO.  He shared technology around several types of additive manufacturing, from medals to plastics to enamel teeth!!  One of the largest labs and printer areas is run by a female!  She showed the students several prints at various stages.  Johan treated the fellows to 3D printed rings! Thank you to Jonah and Sheena Lake for arranging the trip!

The MITRE Corporation hosted the fellows for an afternoon of a sonar workshop and demo of an underwater ROV in their new test tank!  They also had a panel of women sharing their passions and career paths. Thank you to Rus Graves and Jay Lustig!

The last visit for the Lowell cohort was to Teledyne/FLIR.   The fellows learned about the progression of several ground mobile robots for defense and public safety applications.  After discussions with the Valery Fercho, Director of Engineering and several other female engineers, the students had fun driving the robots. thank you to Olivia Truslow, Susan Macchia, Valery Fercho , Mary Winslow and Monika Pesa! Read more about the visit at Teledyne/FLIR here.

Boston and Lowell cohorts come together

Both Boston and Lowell cohorts merged for a session at Shell Tech Works, where a panel of professional women from Shell shared their thoughts around what inspired them to work in sustainability, what a working day at Shell was like, their career highs and lows, and advice and skills needed for success,   The girls then divided into smaller groups for a workshop celebrating International Women’s Day – Discussion was focused on committing to “inspire Inclusion”.  The girls were then treated to professional headshots and a roof-top lunch! Thank you to Ellen Avery and Mary Slater!

Amazon Robotics hosted the Lowell Cohort in their  North Reading facility and the Boston Cohort in the Westborough facility.  The Fellows received a company overview detailing many of the robots working in Amazon fulfillment centers. They were given a tour to see the fabrication and testing of the robots and even areas for research. Thank you to Julie Mitchell, Tye Brady, Rebecca Passo Mikulski,  Amanda Rodrigues Smith, Jackie Gabrielli,  Lisa Medina Smith.

Lowell cohort visiting Amazon Robotics in North Reading
Boston cohort visiting Amazon Robotics in North Reading

Throughout the visits, the students asked thoughtful questions and gained great insight into future career paths!!  Thank you to our amazing ecosystem for opening your doors and sharing your technologies and operations with our Jumpstart Fellows.