The next recipient for the Outstanding Contributor award was described by a student as “an awesome role model and a really positive and cool person!”
Her name is Lisa Kelley and she is a Business Manager in Division 10 of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In addition to her responsibilities in that role, she is also the program manager of MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute. If you don’t know about Beaver Works, the program was launched in 2016 and quickly became the leading high-school outreach program for rising seniors in the United States. Lisa Kelley was instrumental in raising the program’s profile.
The 250 high school students in this program take an online course during the Spring, exploring subjects inspired by an emerging technology, such as 3D printing, self-driving vehicles, or autonomous drones.
The scope and complexity of Lisa’s responsibilities in planning, coordinating, and supervising all aspects of this program were daunting before summer programs for 2020 were affected. Lisa was responsible for:
- recruiting from more than 130 high schools,
- communicating with students, professors, parents, and the media,
- procuring all the intricate parts and materials needed for each course, and
- gracefully handling unforeseen emergencies.
With the format change for summer programs, she took on even more. In the space of just a few months, MIT Beaver Works has moved their content online, so that students can still participate in the program. Several of their most popular classes—such as Autonomous Racecar Virtual, and Serious Game Design and Development—are now available in an entirely online format.
Lisa’s precise organization means the program can run smoothly and students can focus on their learning experience. I share a quote from just one of her many student fans:
“Many didn't notice Lisa's commitment during Beaver Works. I did though. She's the reason I'm conducting research now. We talked for around 20 minutes one day, and she explained what the Lincoln Laboratory staff do at their everyday jobs; she inspired me. …this past summer has really changed my perspective on research, and she inspired me to do what I'm doing.”
Lisa Kelley, thank you for inspiring students and building a bridge to the work of MIT. Congratulations on your Excellence Award!