Students are getting a behind-the-scenes look at how we build and develop technology thanks to an initiative from Amazon and the Greene Scholars Program. The joint program provides hands-on experience and mentorship, and recently hosted a group of high school students of African ancestry at Amazon’s offices in Silicon Valley. The students spent a week working with Amazon employees, learning about Project Kuiper, and touring Amazon's internal testing labs called Lab126.
The goal of the Greene Scholars Program Summer Science Institute is to inspire the next generation of engineers. The program works to help students gain the confidence they need to pursue future careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“This program opens my mind to other people who are passionate about engineering,” said Weston, a rising junior who participated in the program. “It kind of gives me a sense of what I want my creativity to lead to, as it allows me to see where I could be in the future.”
Test-driving new roles
One of the ways Weston and his fellow students were encouraged to build their skills was by giving them hands-on experience in roles they may one day hope to pursue. To achieve this goal, students were given the challenge of developing a prototype product to transmit and play music via laser beams.
Each student on the team was assigned a role, just like on any other engineering team within Amazon. They served as technical program managers or hardware, software, and reliability engineers. Over the course of a week, each student played a role in bringing their projects to life. On his team, Weston filled the role of technical program manager, helping manage deadlines and communicate across the team.
Leaders from across Amazon also joined in, providing mentorship to the students through open office hours with engineers. They also helped students troubleshoot as they built their prototypes.
Amazon employees also participated in Q&As where students were encouraged to dive deep and ask questions about their mentors’ career paths.
Learning about Amazon innovation
For Simone, a rising sophomore, the highlight of her week was getting a behind-the-scenes look at Lab126, an inventive research and development team that designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronic devices.
“I really enjoyed the tour of the reliability and failure analysis labs, and getting to see how they test all their products to make sure that the customers can be happy with the end result,” Simone said.
Students heard from Amazon employees about their career paths, their education, and what led them to working on exciting projects within Amazon. Customer obsession, along with Amazon’s other leadership principles, were also a focal point of the week.
Students were particularly interested in Project Kuiper, Amazon’s program to create a low Earth orbit satellite system designed to provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world.
Weston said Project Kuiper was “the best thing” he learned about all week, saying: “It was great to learn about how my generation can use satellite information to better understand the world and connect with one another.”
Learn more about Project Kuiper and the future of connectivity and read about the other work Amazon is doing to help young people develop their pathways into STEM. To learn more about the Greene Scholars Program, check out the organization’s other hands-on STEM activities for students in third through 12th grades.