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The Future of Engineering…

By Jonathan Cue, Science & Tech/Engineering Teacher, Ottoson Middle School

…Begins with the students of tomorrow.  Research indicates that by the time students reach their freshman year in high school, they have already decided what they don’t want to do.  To ensure that we are doing everything we can to develop our future engineers and technicians, it makes sense to reach young people before they have made that decision.

This fall, the UMASS Lowell Francis College of Engineering partnered with the Massachusetts Extension Partnership (MassMEP) and iRobot to bring real-world engineering to the 8th-grade students at Ottoson Middle School in Arlington, Massachusetts.  

Over the course of eight weeks, students were introduced to the Engineering Design Process by industry professionals.  In addition to the mentoring and support provided by MassMEP and iRobot, students took a field trip to our campus in December. While at UMASS Lowell, they toured the "BAT" lab, the Makerspace, and the NERVE Center at the Innovation Hub.  They also had an interactive presentation/discussion to learn about how ideas and designs are developed into products and commercialized.  

Students and parents were both engaged with the engineering opportunities available and excited by this experience:

Student: "My favorite part of the field trip was getting to tour the school, and learning about all the different programs offered."

Parent: "It opened up his eyes to a lot of careers he could pursue.  His favorite part was learning about the different jobs at iRobot.  He really came home excited!"

The students at Ottoson Middle School feed into either Arlington High School or Minuteman Technical High School. Both schools are expected to participate, beginning in 2020, in our Technical Certificate Programs that offer UMASS Lowell college courses at their campuses. These programs feed UMASS Lowell and regional industry by delivering academically qualified, credentialed students to academia or the workforce; most importantly, they provide opportunities for our next generation. 

Through programs such as these at UMASS Lowell, the future is now for these students.

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