Markforged Distinguished Black Engineers Grant

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Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
Nov 19, 2021
Winners Announced
Dec 18, 2021
Education Level
Graduate, Undergraduate
Eligibility Requirements
Black American
Black American

From robotics to material science, some of the most exciting, world-changing innovation and economic opportunity today is happening at the cutting edge of engineering fields.

Unfortunately, while breakthroughs in technology ought to serve everyone equally, the teams and individuals driving innovation in engineering fields are not typically reflective of our population.

Despite a Black Americans making up 13% of the population, just 4% of STEM degrees go to a Black American students, a number that is not meaningfully improving.

In robotics and 3D printing, where our Markforged team is at the forefront of the digital manufacturing revolution, the lack of racial diversity is just as prevalent.

We see this as not just an opportunity problem, but also as an impact problem. Technology itself suffers from the lack of diversity, with problems ranging from racial bias against a Black American in healthcare algorithms to 40x higher facial recognition error rates for Black women than light-skinned men.

Diverse teams are more innovative and show better financial results than those that aren’t, and it is in all of our best interests to ensure equality of opportunity and strong diversity in engineering fields.

As one part of this, Markforged will award this grant to a Black American engineer at a leading technical university.

The grant will be awarded to a Black American student studying any engineering field at a top-tier technical undergraduate or graduate university program in the US.

Additionally, applicants to this grant will be considered for current and future internships and job opportunities at Markforged as part of an innovative, industry-leading team that is transforming manufacturing.

While applicants from any engineering field are welcome, candidates who have demonstrated excellence in cloud computing, material science, industrial design, 3D printing, manufacturing, etc. will be given preference. Preference will also be given to candidates for whom winning the grant would have a strong impact.

Diversity and Inclusion
Selection Criteria:
Engineering Excellence, Impact
Essay Topic

Please describe a project you’re actively working on. Tell us how this financial award would help you achieve your project goals if you were the scholarship recipient.

500–1000 words

Winning Application

Parfait Siala Pezo
Georgia State UniversityDuluth, GA
I am in the last year of my Bachelor's of Science program in Computer Science at Georgia State University. I envision myself as a Software developer in five years, completing my graduate degrees. But I also see myself mentoring future computer science majors in programming, as that is also my passion. However, I might fail to achieve these ambitions without adequate financial support. My family does not have the required financial means to support my college education. Therefore, receiving this scholarship will help pay for my college tuition and fees for the academic year, which will undoubtedly lead to my completion of the program in May 2022. My current personality and reputation derive from my past. Born in Kinshasa in the Congo, I have always been an enthusiastic and curious student, still passionate about my studies. Above all, however, it is my inherent desire to succeed that has encouraged me the most. I did not grow up in the United States, so my experiences were different from most students of my age who I know. I grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so my experiences were different from most students of my generation. Life was challenging, much so that it was tough even to imagine going through. Congo is one of the poorest countries in Africa, and on earth, with one of the highest illiteracy rates. The infant mortality rate is through the roof. The average Congolese citizen lives with one U.S. dollar per day. Many children do not go to school since their parents cannot afford to pay for their education, as even primary and secondary schools are not free. However, I was lucky enough to be schooled by my parents despite their financial struggles. I woke up every day at 4:00 AM to attend classes. Roads were almost inexistent, and we did not have school buses, so I made sure I left the house three hours earlier to walk to school. There were times when I was denied access to school despite all my efforts simply because my parents did not have the money to pay for my school fees. But I kept in mind that the future would be bright if I worked hard enough. Taking inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt, who stated that "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I worked harder than any student in my class, and I academically outperformed them all. I moved to the United States at age thirteen, and It was after moving to the United States, I realized how technologically advanced the world is. I was then determined to make an impact technically. However, it was only after my high school graduation that I had decided to be a computer science major at Georgia State University. Even after moving from a French-speaking country to the United States, as hard as it was for me to adapt, today- nine years later, I stand proudly as a Senior at the university, having conquered the language barrier with the help of my High School's mentors and instructors. I regularly make the President and Dean's list. Most importantly, I have gained priceless experiences teaching and tutoring my peers in Computer Science and History at Georgia State University through Trio Student Support Services, where I worked part-time this year. Georgia State University's tuition and fees cost around nine thousand three hundred American dollars. With this scholarship award, I would focus more on my studies rather than working extra hours and worrying about how to pay for my college. Since I would not need to be working additional hours trying to make more money to cover my college expenses, I would have more spare time on my hand to complete my homework and to turn them in on time. I would have more time to review my notes during the day instead of waking up late at night to study because I was too occupied working two jobs during the day. As a result, my grade point average will improve, and so will my understanding of the subjects I am studying. Any money I make regular working from my part-time job would then go toward the payment for my transportation from home to campus and back home because I do not own a car, so I have to ride the bus and the train every day to make it in class. For that, I disburse over sixty dollars per month on my Marta Breeze card's monthly fee, granting me access to the train station. But to get to the train station, I must first walk to the bus stop from my house. Overall, I spend five dollars per day on my bus trips, besides the train fare. However, with the money from this scholarship, I would not have issues paying the monthly fee on time. Neither would I be walking back home from the train station after school because I lack the money to pay for the bus, as I sometimes do. On average, I spend five hundred dollars each year on academic books and memberships of digital products designed to engage students before, during, and after class, such as WebAssign, Top Hat, and iClicker Reef. If I am chosen as the scholarship recipient, I will be capable of buying and accessing these digital products without acquiring more debt. Finally, I sincerely believe that one way of reaching true greatness is through education. I work very hard to materialize my project and aspiration to become a Software developer to invent and program medical devices that save human lives. But I also see myself mentoring future computer science majors in programming, as that is also my passion. However, I a not sure to get that far without funding. In a sense, this financial award will lay the foundations for my future.
Ebonie Reavis
University of Wisconsin-MadisonNew York, NY
The conversations of a 16-year-old girl on a Friday night usually don’t involve robots talking to each other. That was exactly my project. At 16, I interned at New York University and researched the collaborative localization of commercial robotics with Augmented reality. Yes, this is a mouthful but it is also my passion. I worked on this project for the entirety of my summer for my Junior year of High School. Even though I was the youngest person in the lab, I made sure to learn what I can and show off the skills that I have learned. As an engineer, it was very important for me to communicate with my mentor and others in the lab about how we should go about certain problems that arise in our experiment. For example, we learned the best way to design the robots was to 3D-print them. One of my tasks throughout the summer was to design and 3D-print the chassis of our mini-robots which communicated to the main computer. I learned how to use Auto-CAD software quickly so that I can implement it throughout the project. I then assembled the delicate pieces to the best of my ability with various tools. Not to mention, I helped create unique fiducial markers (similar to QR codes) to help each of the four robots “recognize” each other to complete a task. The ultimate goal of this project was to have the robots communicate with each other to efficiently perform a task. Specifically, if there were 4 robots all in a square from each other and the main computer tasked the 4 robots to bring the soda can closest to them to the trash bin. The 4 robots would read each other’s sensors to see if they are closest to the can. If they are then they will all come to an “agreement” that the robot closest to it shall pick up the can and put it in the bin. When I was not working at NYU, I was running and organizing my high school’s first-ever robotics team. Through this experience is when I learned what the morality of being an engineer is like and how to make crucial decisions. I was one of the initial founders of the First Tech Challenge and the U.S. Navy Seaperch team. Unfortunately, my high school refused to fund our team because we were not deemed as essential as the performing arts students. Even though we faced various obstacles, I made sure that my team was unified and all worked towards a common goal. I created fundraisers to help cover the costs of participating in a First Tech Challenge team, made sure every idea was accounted for and experimented with, and helped build the robots as well. This experience exemplified what it was like to be an engineer. Specifically, it made me realize that engineers do not always have all the resources they want but they must be resourceful to make projects work. It also helped me realize how important it is to understand how to collaborate with others to make the most efficient idea. As I was in the team, many times my teammates would have so many ideas that we would lose focus, but as our President and Head engineer, I made sure that we stayed goal-oriented. Now that I am 19-years-old, I see how these experiences shaped me into who I am for my college career. Last semester while I myself had COVID-19, I worked on a project to create makeshift ventilators out of electrical components. I used electronic mapping design software, an Arduino, electrical components, and a breadboard to design these preliminary components that measured the beats per minute and simulated breathing through a photoresistor. This project helped me realize how relevant and essential engineering truly is in the world today. As I was designing the electrical components for this ventilator I realized that maybe others that felt like I did during COVID-19 would benefit from a machine like this. Being an engineer is not just about building it requires patience, sympathy, and an idea of the “bigger picture”. These experiences molded me into who I am today and why I work so hard to be a woman of color studying engineering at my Predominantly white institution. Overall, these were the best experiences of my life.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Nov 19, 2021. Winners will be announced on Dec 18, 2021.

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