‘Education needs it’: Massachusetts science program aims to be accessible in schools across country

MALDEN, Mass. — Helping local students find a love of science that can translate into high-paying jobs. That’s the goal of a program spun out of MIT that’s gaining traction in high schools across the country. BioBuilder helped a Malden native earn a new job in the biotech industry.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Kevin Fuentes.

After graduating from Tufts University, Kevin Fuentes is getting ready to start a new job.

“I think my parents really wanted me to accomplish something difficult that could be lucrative for me, to just, you know, I grew up not in the most suitable financial situation,” said Fuentes.

Kevin was introduced to BioBuilder while at Malden High School.

“Seeing people who were so excited and so passionate about the things that they were doing, and that kind of lit a fire in me as well,” said Fuentes. “And I think it was the first time that I could have ever imagined myself as a scientist in any capacity.”

BioBuilder Executive Director Natalie Kuldell created a science curriculum for high school students bringing engineering and problem solving into the classroom.

“We really do want to work through the public school system, because that’s a chance for students to get some experience in this field when it doesn’t cost them time or money, to see if they can turn up,” said Kuldell. “Try this lab coat on for size and see if it’s what they want to do.”

BioBuilder works with teachers to bring its content into their labs. Right now, the BioBuilder program is in 1,000 high schools across the country, with a goal of expanding to every one.

“So we’re really hoping to help attract students to the field and get them interested and, train them up so that the industry can have the talent they need,” said Kuldell.

BioBuilder hopes to tackle the lack of accessibility to science programs and reach out to as many students as possible.

“Education needs it tremendously because it is the ability to kind of allow students of all backgrounds, finally make their way into these industries where they might not have before, simply because you’re giving them the opportunity to,” said Fuentes.

Now Kevin has an opportunity at Sunflower Therapeutics. He’s the company’s second hire from the BioBuilder program.

“I think you get the most innovative solutions when you have a diverse workforce working on it,” said Kerry Love, CEO and co-founder of Sunflower Therapeutics. “So I’m looking for a diverse workforce that is also well trained and understands how to do translational science.”

And that can translate to a fulfilling career.

“We really do owe it to that next generation to have them find purposeful work and wealth-building work,” said Kuldell.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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