Following a successful pilot run of the MassRobotics Jumpstart Fellowship Program, and a 2nd successful year of growth, applications for the third cohort are now open through November 20. The Jumpstart program provides opportunities for diverse Massachusetts high school girls to learn about careers in robotics, expose them to technical skills and develop their professional networks through direct engagement with industry professionals.
All female high school juniors and seniors, especially Black and Latinx ones with a passion for robotics and technology are encouraged to apply. The application link is here. Learn more by attending an upcoming virtual student information session here.
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 Jumpstart curriculum exposes young women to the many technical skills needed within the robotics industry, from programming to design and simulation, to hands-on building, prototyping and testing. The curriculum includes expertise from MassRobotics’ partners and the Massachusetts robotics ecosystem including SolidWorks, Lightspeed Manufacturing and GreenSight. The first Jumpstart cohort was made possible through funding and support provided by The Boston Foundation, Dassault Systèmes’ La Fondation and MassTech Collaborative and is continuing through a grant provided by the Cummings Foundation and ongoing support from MassTech Collaborative.
The STEM workforce in Massachusetts currently suffers from a lack of diversity. In the Massachusetts technology sector, which includes STEM and the robotics industry, only five percent of workers are Black, seven percent are Latinx, and one-third are women, according to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.
“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.”
A key part of the Jumpstart program is making sure these young women feel confident and empowered to enter the STEM field. Students learn directly from mentors about the different types of robotics jobs and how to leverage their studies into a career in robotics through lab and company visits. Students are given the opportunity to receive paid internships at robotics and technology companies participating in the program.
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
“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, cofounder 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.”
Local robotics businesses that would like to employ Jumpstart interns or provide expertise during Saturday lessons, please email STEM@MassRobotics.org.