Growing up in southern Florida, AJ Perez was an accomplished student with dreams of attending an elite college. The schools he heard most about, however, were the local options: University of Miami, Florida State. Then, in 2008, as a high school junior, Perez applied for and was accepted to MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science — or MITES — program. He spent a month and a half that summer immersed in university-level classes, learning about math, physics, and robotics and, it turned out, reshaping his plans for the future.
“I didn’t know I wanted to go to MIT until MITES,” Perez says. “It wasn’t too often MIT came up in daily conversation.”
Perez, now 21, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT. He also worked as a MITES teaching assistant the summer between his sophomore and junior years. Today, he is enrolled in a master’s program at the school and is a cofounder of New Valence Robotics, a startup focused on creating 3-D printers that can be used by science and math students in elementary, middle, and high schools. “Realizing the impact we’re having on people and realizing how excited the kids get — that’s what keeps me going every day,” Perez says.
Continue reading the article in The Boston Globe. photo by Essdras M Suarez