Inside Stories

InsideChelmsford: STEM Grant Helps Tech Department

Chelmsford High engineering teacher David Steeves and computer integrated manufacturing student Asher Leatherman, a sophomore, program the new Intellitek BenchMill to etch initials into a piece of wood

by Jen Oemig

CHELMSFORD – Some exciting new equipment has been acquired by the technology department at Chelmsford High School, including DOBOT robots and an Intellitek BenchMill.

The items were purchased with STEM grant funding provided by Lockheed Martin through Project Lead The Way (PTLW).

These resources have been integral in launching a new course at CHS called Computer Integrated Manufacturing, which provides students the opportunity to learn about manufacturing processes, product design, advanced robotics and automation.

“Lockheed Martin came to Project Lead The Way and said they wanted to support STEM courses,” said Marilyn Sweeney, department coordinator for technology and engineering for Chelmsford Public Schools. “And they wanted to give the money to school districts that have a successful record of implementing Project Lead The Way courses.”

Last year, Ms. Sweeney successfully applied for the grant funding, which allowed the district to start purchasing necessary equipment to get the course started.

“[Lockheed Martin] gave us $30,000 – $15,000 last year and $15,000 this year – to launch this Computer Integrated Manufacturing course, and give kids these skills,” she said.

CHS engineering teacher David Steeves recently had the opportunity to unbox the new robotic arms acquired with the grant funding.

“It’s amazing stuff we have to work with,” he said. “We’re very lucky.”

The BenchMill arrived earlier this year.

“It’s quite amazing,” Mr. Steeves said. “It’s kind of like a drill, so you can drill holes in things. … It will actually go through, and you can get it to drill down and go sideways. You can go different heights, so you can create lots of neat stuff.”

PLTW courses are rigorous, and require teachers to undergo extensive training.

Mr. Steeves attended one of those professional development trainings last summer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He spent 80 hours over two weeks learning about Computer Integrated Manufacturing and how to successfully implement the course at the high school level.

Since the 10-credit, project-based course was added to the Program of Studies, students at Chelmsford High have been showing increased interest.

Chelmsford High School sophomore Drew Morris works on programming a DOBOT robotic arm in the new computer integrated manufacturing course.

“We started with six students, and now we have 11,” Ms. Sweeney said. “It’s brand new, so we’re still trying to get the word out about it. … But the kids seem to love it, and that’s why it’s increased in enrollment even during the school year.”

Ms. Sweeney said the Computer Integrated Manufacturing class also excels at teaching teamwork and collaboration skills.

“Those are 21st Century skills,” she said. “These days, every job is so big, you’re working in teams. … One person can’t program every robotic arm in an assembly line. Everybody plays a part.”

To learn more about the Computer Integrated Manufacturing course at Chelmsford High School, visit or reach out to Ms. Sweeney at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *