MassRobotics kicked off sessions for the 4th Jumpstart cohort in Boston and the first expansion in Lowell on January 13, 2024. The program was developed to encourage and empower diverse high school girls to pursue a career in robotics and promote diversity in the robotics workforce.
This Jumpstart program has many components – and it’s the blend of all the components that makes it impactful and game-changing for the students who go through the program. Jumpstart components include a technical curriculum for building skills in design, simulation, and coding, physical hands-on fabrication and electronics, professional development, mentors, and a paid internship in the robotics and technology field.
Our initial sessions connected the student cohorts in Boston and Lowell for discussion around the use of AI and ChatGPT and how to use it cautiously and successfully. Michelle Stanfield led the session and provided examples before having the students work on data prompts to understand an applicable output, stressing the importance of researching output as this should never be a primary source.
Kristen Bates, the HR expert, provided a session on LinkedIn and tips for using it successfully to network, job search, and outreach. Students set up their profiles and will continue to update and add mentors throughout the program, building their networks.
Our mentor session in Lowell was with Dr. Holly Yanco, Distinguished University Professor and NERVE Center Director, where the Lowell cohort holds their weekly sessions. Holly offered insights into her career choices and shared advice with those interested in pursuing an academic career.
Boston’s mentor session was with Michelle Stanfield, who shared her non-traditional career journey and most recent transition into cyber security.
Field Trips: On Monday, January 15th, each cohort visited a manufacturer to learn “what it takes” to build a technical product.
The Boston Cohort took the commuter rail to Haverhill to visit Lightspeed Manufacturing. They were surprised by a limousine ride from the train station to the Lightspeed facility!!
Lightspeed Manufacturing engineers and assembles custom Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and works with companies to prototype, manufacture, and repair equipment, including everything from robotics and drones to medical equipment and IoT. Thanks to Rich Breault, president, and the entire Lightspeed team for hosting our Jumpstart Boston Cohort 4. Rich has been a supporter of the program since Day 1. Not only does Rich personally teach the soldering curriculum to the Jumpstart cohorts, but he also donates equipment to our STEM Lab. Rich has hosted all 4 cohorts at Lightspeed, and each year has been an incredible experience for the Fellows. This year, he outdid himself by providing the young ladies a trip in style from the commuter rail to the facility in chauffeur-driven stretch limousines.
The Lowell Cohort to a ride to Cirtronics Corporation, a full-service electronic contract manufacturer. The company serves a variety of markets, including medical, homeland security, industrial, automation, test instrumentation and telecommunications. Thanks to Skip Tately for helping arrange our visit and to Tom Ferrin for acting as our tour guide. We were fortunate to have four females, all in different roles, speak to the fellows about their careers and engage in an open discussion about skills needed and used most in the tech industry. Thank you to Christine Augello, Christine Degan, Melanie Methot, Dianne Sherwood for their insight and time spent with the Fellows.
Our program continues to seek internship opportunities for our Jumpstart Fellows – who will have experience with SolidWorks, Python, soldering, digital fabrication, 3D printing, and use of hand tools. If interested in participating as an employer or contributor, please fill out this form.
Thank you to La Fondation Dassault Systèmes, US and ADI Foundation for supporting our program and to Mass Technology Collaborative for funding the Lowell expansion! And to UMass Lowell and the NERVE Center for the use of their facility to host our sessions.