Aspiring engineer attends M.I.T.

By Frank Montenegro | Distribution Manager

Many students spend the summer relaxing and waiting for the new school year to begin, but senior Lauren Gagnon wasted no time, spending a month at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She attended the Women’s Technology Program last August, which is specifically designed for high school girls who want to go into engineering.

“I was really excited when I got accepted to attend the program. I didn’t think I was going to get in,” Gagnon said. “I applied by writing essays and describing the activities I was involved in at school, so it was basically like applying for a college.”

Over the course of a month, Gagnon did a research project on solar panels, constructed 3D printed objects and had the privilege of taking tours of companies such as the Swoofer Map and Vecana Technology Artificial Intel Company.

“It was a lot of hard work. We took a lot of math and physics classes taught by graduate students,” Gagnon said. “The first two weeks we mostly did homework and learned the material and did brainstorming classes. For the second two weeks we did projects that apply to the world.”

One of the projects Gagnon did was a computer aided drafting project consisting of designing a figure or a part to a machine, then sending the design to a printer as big as a refrigerator. The design came out in layers of plastic to form the object.

“I created a cube with the Beatles logo on the side; it took me about five hours to create the whole thing, but the Beatles logo alone took me three hours,” said Gagnon. “Some of the other objects girls created were objects like a keychain, earrings and a life size iPod.”

Gagnon was intrigued by the media lab at MIT.

“There were a lot of cool and fascinating things I saw such as an interactive ping pong table that a koi fish is being projected on to it and when the ball hits the table the fish scatters away,” said Gagnon. “There was a place dedicated to interactive children’s toys: for example, ‘Guitar Hero.’”

Lauren’s father, Mark Gagnon, is pleased with Lauren’s accomplishments and hard work.

“I’m very proud of her to be able to get into the program and learn new things at MIT,” Mark Gagnon said. “I’d say I’ve been a good role model for her, but she has done all the work, not me. I try to do what I can, but all the credit should go to Lauren.”

The MIT camp helped influence Gagnon’s future goals.

“I want to be a mechanical engineer,” Gagnon said. “In other words, I want to come up with solutions to things and one of the solutions I want to create is an alternative energy to fossil fuels.”