BEST scholars participate in industry visits
Starting college as a first-generation student or pursuing a STEM major as someone from a group underrepresented in STEM can come with its own unique challenges. To address these hurdles, the Center for STEM Diversity established the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program, which supports cohorts of select students throughout their college career. During academic year 2022-2023, the CSD worked with industry partners to offer BEST scholars the opportunity to participate in industrial visits for the first time. BEST program manager and associate director of the Tufts Center for STEM Diversity Sehba Hasan launched the visits with three primary goals in mind: helping students gain industry insights, introducing students' talent to industry, and establishing a collaborative pipeline for summer jobs and internships.
The BEST program begins for a new cohort of students every summer, when incoming first-years take two college courses for credit and attend various academic and college life workshops. This experience gives BEST scholars an opportunity to settle into college life and become comfortable with the academic and social adjustments required when transitioning to college. Support for each cohort of BEST participants continues throughout all four years of the undergraduate experience. With the aim of helping students thrive both academically and personally, BEST offers access to BEST-specific tutoring, mentorship, social events and more. Participants form close bonds both within their own cohorts and among class years through regular group outings and meals together.
Not only does the BEST program provide a solid foundation for students throughout their college experience, but the program also prepares participants for life beyond college. Since 2022, the BEST program has conducted industry visits to STEM-related companies in Massachusetts. The visits provide BEST scholars with invaluable exposure to diverse opportunities that lay ahead in their futures, allowing them to grasp real-world applications of their academic knowledge and fostering a mutual exchange of ideas and perspectives.
According to Hasan, “By forging strong partnerships, the program aims to pave the way for an enriching professional journey for the scholars.” Through these endeavors, the BEST program remains dedicated to nurturing the potential of its scholars and bridging the gap between academia and industry.
The first industry visit was to AECOM in Boston, an infrastructure firm which delivers design, planning, engineering, consulting, and construction management solutions. Students spoke with Associate Vice President Reed Brockman and learned about career opportunities at the company. Industry visits like this one offer a mix of networking and hands-on experience, as the scholars learned about different types of bridges and built their own mock compression bridge.
In 2023, the BEST program conducted industry visits to computing software companies MathWorks and PTC. At the MathWorks Apple Hill campus in Natick, BEST scholars spoke with senior leadership and human resources about career opportunities. During the visit, the Tufts students did some programming using the company's MATLAB software and met with employees at the company. At PTC, BEST scholars learned more about opportunities at the organization. They also met Jon Hirschtick, the developer and founder of industry-standard engineering design software including SolidWorks and OnShape. Meeting these professionals and learning about the different companies helped BEST scholars envision potential paths for their future careers.
BEST is part of the Center for STEM Diversity at Tufts and operates in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the School of Engineering.
Learn more about the BEST program.
Department:Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice