CSV has been fortunate over the years to partner with some of Cambridge’s most innovative corporations. This past semester, CSV welcomed two new additions to its NetPals mentoring program – the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) and Vecna Technologies. And what a valuable resource each has become!
Located in Kendall Square, MassBioEd is committed to supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education with a focus in biotechnology in Massachusetts through school programs. Toward that goal, executive director Lance Hartford recruited 12 local scientists as mentors for 7th graders in CSV’s NetPals program at the Cambridge Street Upper School (CSUS). Hartford is also the program coordinator and a NetPal for two students there. The MassBio Ed volunteers work at several local companies and research institutions. MassBioEd joined long-time partners Draper Laboratories and Novartis, both of which have worked with CSV for years to recruit scientists and engineers as NetPals.
A total of 66 volunteer NetPals, mostly scientists and engineers from MassBioEd, Draper and Novartis, have mentored students via e-mail and through several in-person visits during the semester. The program allows students to meet and work with a real scientist, visit a large biotech company up-close, and consider possible career choices. The three NetPals partners hosted students at a March welcome lunch for their first face-to-face meeting. Then in April, mentors were treated to a Science Fair breakfast at CSUS while reviewing students’ earthquake projects.
Across Cambridge in the Alewife area, Vecna Technologies also launched its first NetPals partnership with CSV, joining neighbors Cambridge Systematics and Grace Construction Products as volunteer mentors to 7th graders at the Rindge Avenue Upper School (RAUS).
Vecna is a leader in robotics and software development for the health care industry, and like other CSV partners, encourages its employees to participate in community service. Vecna is not new to the school/industry partnership, as their employees have volunteered with the high school’s Robotics team. Vecna’s CEO and Chairwoman, Deborah Theobald, is herself a NetPal. She is one of 22 Vecna employees who have been communicating with RAUS 7th graders around friendly mentoring, science projects, and other school activities such as a university field trip.
In January, Vecna hosted its first on-site visit with roughly one-third of the 7th grade RAUS students. Employees showcased many of the robots used by the health care industry to improve patient safety and care. After the tour, both NetPals and students joined existing partners from Cambridge Systematics and Grace for a pizza lunch at Bertucci’s, taking over the entire restaurant!
Many thanks to CSV’s two newest corporate partners, MassBioEd and Vecna, for their exciting and new collaboration with NetPals. CSV is also grateful for the work of Pam Shwartz, 7th grade science teacher and NetPals coordinator for the CSUS, and Jay Mahoney, her counterpart at the RAUS, for their hard work and energy this semester. In addition, CSV salutes Meg Kravitz, a member of the Vecna product development team, who is coordinating the program there.