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It’s been more than a year since the family of Laura Schuler Cossette set up a charitable fund to honor one of their favorite people – a 1980 Maynard High School graduate, a mechanical engineer, and what they have described as an all-around nice person.
The idea was to use the fund to provide a yearly scholarship to a graduating Maynard senior going into engineering. They partnered with the Society of Women Engineers to hold the money.
“They are actually the nonprofit arm for us,” said Jean Garlisi, Cossette’s cousin.
Last year, they gave out a scholarship, Garlisi said, but were unable to find an engineering student, so gave it to a student going into the field of science instead.
The scholarship was intended to honor Cossette, who loved being an engineer, so they have redirected the fund to focus on trying to interest middle school-age girls in the field of engineering.
Part of the fund’s mission statement is to “help women and young girls in engineering,” Garlisi said.
Last year they held two engineering workshops for girls in middle school, said Garlisi.
Now they have started MABLE, a SWENext club, open to girls from Maynard, Acton, Boxborough and Littleton.
Maria Gouveia, a senior at Maynard High school, is helping to launch the club as part of her senior project. Gouveia is planning to major in engineering at Bridgewater State College.
“I’ve always had a passion for engineering, but did not figure out the type of engineering that is right for me until I recently got accepted into Bridgewater State University and decided to major in Photonics and Optical Engineering,” Gouveia said.
Gouveia’s help has been invaluable in getting the club off the ground, Garlisi said. She helped design the website and mission statement and will help lead club meetings.
Future in focus
The MABLE SWENext Club is for girls in grades 5 to 7, and Gouveia believes it will encourage them to pursue engineering as a career.
“The girls from this club will work with many different kinds of engineers, they will do fun activities, and they can see that there's a place for them in this field,” Gouveia said.
The first meeting of MABLE was held Feb. 5 at the Boys and Girls Club of Assabet Valley in Maynard. Twelve girls attended and a chemical engineer demonstrated a bioreactor.
“There [was] glitter involved,” Garlisi said.
The next meeting will be held March 19.
Garlisi said she hopes the club will meet at least four times a year, but she is open to expanding it if there is interest.
“The thing I want to emphasize with the parents and the kids is that this is their club. So how far they want to go is up to them,” she said.
She is hoping some of the parents might be engineers and interested in participating in the club. She also hopes to have a high school student involved every year.
Gouveia will finish when she graduates from high school but has agreed to find a successor, Garlisi said.
As the name suggests, Garlisi hopes to foster a love of engineering in young girls.
“We originally had our name MABL – but then I looked up the definition for the girl’s name Mable which is ‘lovable.’ So I thought if we went to MABLE and combined it with this idea of love and engineering we could come up with a cool logo and something that also speaks to inclusiveness -- because that’s the concept to me when it comes to girls in engineering,” Garlisi said.
To find out more about MABLE and to join the club visit mableswenextclub.com/.
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