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Diversity In Action

Research and inclusion at MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Exciting defense-based R&D; projects are the work focus; but there’s much more here to get people engaged, and it begins on their first day at work


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (Lexington, MA) is a federally funded research and development center operated by MIT to address problems of national security. Its primary mission areas include space control; air and missile defense; communications; cybersecurity; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; homeland protection; air traffic control and engineering.

“Typically, we build prototypes and engage in long-term system engineering projects,” says Bill Kindred, manager of diversity and inclusion. “We have a strong history in radars, so we have a great need for electrical engineers and physicists. We’re growing significantly in the cyber world, so computer science is a huge growth area for us.”

The laboratory also looks for mechanical engineers, aerospace engineers, applied mathematicians and biologists. “Biomechanics, biometrics, biocomputations, and biosensors are new areas we’re getting into,” says Kindred. “We like candidates who have strong math skills but who can also bring new ideas. We don’t rule out any technical major.”

Problem-solving skills are critical for any research laboratory, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory looks for creative individuals with strong analytical abilities. “We want someone who can step back and say, ‘What would be the best approach to solve this task?’” Kindred notes.

How to get in the door
Experienced professionals can apply at www.ll.apply2jobs.com.

“Seventy-five percent of the people who work in our laboratory are at the PhD and masters level. We also like to promote from within,” Kindred notes.

About half of new hires come directly from colleges and universities. MIT Lincoln Laboratory focuses recruitment efforts on schools that teach the technologies that support current projects. Recruiters attend national and regional events sponsored by organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.

“I also talk to the college chapters of those organizations,” says Kindred. “On the MIT campus in particular, I work with the Office of Minority Education and our K through 12 outreach programs as a way of building the pipeline of future technical staff members.”

MIT Lincoln Laboratory has a large internship program, he adds. Last year nearly 180 students participated.

Laboratory staff members are active in several professional technical societies. The laboratory has partnerships with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Seeking input for inclusion tactics
The professional and community enhancement group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory has a diversity and inclusion subgroup. “Its purpose is to find out from employees how to improve the work environment,” Kindred says. “Some improvements that came out of their inquiries are our onsite childcare, our health and wellness initiative, and special parking spaces for pregnant women.”

Every two years, the laboratory holds a diversity summit. Every year, several speakers visit to talk about pressing issues. At a recent veterans’ appreciation breakfast, the keynote speaker was General Mark A. Welsh III, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.

The laboratory has resource groups for African Americans, Hispanics, veterans, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. It also has networks for new employees and recent college hires.

“A guide program for new employees makes sure they are well prepared before they start with us,” Kindred explains. “If they are relocating, we let them know about the weather and good places to live; and for those with children, we give information about local schools. On the first day at the job, guides walk them around and introduce them to the people they should know.”

A similar program for newly hired college grads is designed to help them make the transition from school to the work world. The laboratory also has programs for one-on-one and circle mentoring.

The organization has after-hours athletic leagues for bowling, volleyball, golf, tennis, cycling and Frisbee. “Our Latino group hosts after-hours dance classes,” Kindred says. “We have a committee that organizes noontime concerts. We have a Toastmasters International group on site, as well as access to the resources that MIT provides.”

Connecting with the community
Through its employee resource groups, MIT Lincoln Laboratory employees volunteer at a Boston food bank. Other employees are involved in activities like FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, local science fairs, support-the-troops programs and clothing drives.

“One Saturday every other month during the academic year, laboratory scientists and engineers present an onsite science and technology demonstration for local school students, their parents, and teachers,” Kindred reports. “We have a radar course for high school seniors. Each year for two weeks in the summer, we bring in eighteen kids who live in a dorm at the MIT campus while they spend their days with us learning about radars and actually building a small radar system.”

D/C




www.ll.mit.edu

Headquarters: Lexington, MA
Employees: 3,200
Business: Research and development in advanced technology for national security

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