MassRobotics is now accepting applications for its Jumpstart Fellowship Program. The Boston nonprofit started the program to help give girls in high school the opportunity to gain hands-on technical skills and learn about the robotics industry.
This is the third time MassRobotics is putting on the program. Jumpstart focuses on many technical areas, from programming to design and simulation, to hands-on building, prototyping and testing, according to MassRobotics.
A key part of the Jumpstart program is making sure these young women feel confident and empowered to enter the STEM field, it said.
MassRobotics partners and other MA robotics companies will take part in program
The curriculum includes participation from MassRobotics' partners and other companies in the Massachusetts ecosystem including SolidWorks, Lightspeed Manufacturing, and GreenSight.
MassRobotics is encouraging all-female high schools with a passion for technology and robotics to apply, especially those who are Black and Latinx. Applications are due Nov. 20. To apply, visit this site. For those who are interested in learning more, MassRobotics will be hosting an upcoming virtual student information session.
This cohort will run from January through mid-May 2023 and will meet weekly on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays at the MassRobotics office and off-site for industry visits. The program also includes a full week of sessions and field trips to robotics companies during February school vacation week (February 20-24).
Following completion of the scheduled curriculum and site visits, students will have paid summer internships at participating robotics companies.
The first Jumpstart cohort was made possible through funding and support provided by The Boston Foundation, Dassault Systèmes' La Fondation and MassTech Collaborative. It is continuing through a grant provided by the Cummings Foundation and ongoing support from MassTech.
Graduating students had this to say about the program:
- •“I found my passion in engineering and coding, my future has never felt clearer.” Helena, 2021
- •“Entering the professional world is not easy, but this program has worked with us to make this path a lot easier.” Tairine, 2022
- •“It is important for fellowships like this to exist because it created a space for women of color to bond over their knowledge of STEM. Together, this cohort got over their shyness and worked as one unit to successfully complete a rigorous program.” Hermione, 2022
Jumpstart designed to address a lack of diversity
The STEM workforce in Massachusetts currently suffers from a lack of diversity. MassRobotics quoted the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, which found that only 5% of workers in the Massachusetts technology sector are black, 7% are women, and one-third are women.
“We know that girls, especially Black and Latinx girls, are not well-represented in the tech sector. We believe this program can help change this when it comes to the talent pipeline in robotics,” said Carolyn Kirk, executive director, MassTech Collaborative. “We manage several state programs that address diversity in the tech sector, including the Jumpstart program.”
“A key reason we support this program is that it combines classroom sessions with hands-on learning and direct engagement with sector professionals. Through this approach, it is more likely students will pursue these disciplines as a career by giving them real-world work experience and access to professional mentors,” Kirk added.
“Greensight co-founded Jumpstart because supporting STEM education and helping foster DEI in the tech industry are core goals of our company. Jumpstart allows us to make a noticeable difference in both these areas,” said Joel Pedlikin, co-founder and COO at Greensight. “To us, the lack of diversity in robotics is an obvious sign that a lot of high-quality talent simply is not able to break into the industry. Jumpstart is a small but significant way for GreenSight to enlarge the pool of US robotics engineers. Years of experience has taught our company how to make excellent use of engineering co-ops and interns, and the Jumpstart interns we've hired have made significant contributions to GreenSight.”