Thinkabit Lab Reaches New Audiences in 2019
Our Thinkabit Lab program shows students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds that they can be part of inventing the wireless world of the future. Learners of all ages explore careers available at Qualcomm and other technology companies. They also engage in fun and unique engineering projects culminating in the design of an IoT themed invention to solve a real-world problem. These activities help students understand where they might fit in the future workforce and how they could use technology to help make the world a better place.
We launched our program for middle school students in 2014. The original program was housed in a dedicated Thinkabit Lab space at our Company’s headquarters in San Diego, California. We’ve evolved and expanded the program yearly to broaden our reach and make a greater impact. To date, our program has inspired 65,000 students to become the next generation of inventors.
Through collaborations with public, private and nonprofit organizations we now have a celebrated network of 16 Thinkabit Lab sites and 27 instructors at schools, universities and libraries nationwide. We provide an online Learning Center with a variety of free resources for teachers and adults, which can be downloaded for use in their classroom, home or organization.
In 2019, we
- opened two Thinkabit Lab sites;
- hosted instructors at Qualcomm to provide training; and
- created new program content to engage students beyond middle school.
We collaborated with Dow Chemical Company to create a Thinkabit Lab at Cohn Elementary School in Port Allen, Louisiana, establishing our first program in the south. This achievement also marked our first collaboration with a business in the private sector.
We built on our relationship with Virginia Tech and opened a Thinkabit Lab at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center to serve students and teachers in Roanoke, a rural area in Virginia. The Roanoke site marks our second collaboration with Virginia Tech on a Thinkabit Lab. Together, we opened the Virginia Tech Thinkabit Lab at the university’s campus in the National Capital Region in 2016.
This summer, we implemented our first Instructor Summit for teachers from the different Thinkabit Lab sites to ensure that all 16 sites provide a common experience to students. Instructors toured Qualcomm facilities, learned about 5G, and heard firsthand from employees about their career paths. This allowed instructors from different sites to meet each other and share best practices.
Following the Instructor Summit, 100 percent of instructors reported they could speak to topics such as IoT and 5G in their communities.
Our expansion also encompassed additional content beyond the traditional Thinkabit Lab experience. We piloted a new project, AgTech IoT for high school students at our Thinkabit Lab in Porterville, an agricultural community in Central California. Students learned to develop an app that could be used to prevent overwatering of crops and wasting water. The project used Bluetooth technology to communicate wirelessly between the app and hardware, including a sensor, motors and light emitting diodes. With the support of Porterville’s agricultural business community, we also added seven AgTech career cards to our signature Qualcomm World of Work experience. Student surveys displayed a statistically significant increase in their interest in science and greater confidence in inventing new things.
We also rolled out a new project, entitled Tech for Good during the Instructor Summit. This project incorporates Bluetooth communication technology and the Wireless Reach impact sectors — health care, education, public safety, entrepreneurship and the environment — to showcase the power of our technology to transform communities and impact society for the better. This project will enable our network of sites to implement summer STEM camps in the near future.
We have continued with our commitment to offering summer Thinkabit Lab camps and have engaged more than 500 student participants since 2014. A highlight of our commitment to gender equity in STEM is our ongoing collaboration with the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In 2019, we hosted our sixth cohort of the AAUW Tech Trek in San Diego, where middle school girls used their newly gained engineering and coding skills to create a "tech for good" invention.
We expanded our Thinkabit Lab Ambassador Program beyond our Company’s offices in San Diego and Cambridge, United Kingdom, to now also include employees at our Boulder, Colorado and Cork, Ireland locations. In the last two years, our employees have enabled us to reach more than 6,600 students across the four offices, including more than 1,000 students in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
We have also added Qualcomm® World of Work career cards with country specific labor market information that are used to engage learners at conferences, school events and tours of Qualcomm offices. Our career cards are available in Spanish and our program has been trademarked in Mexico, European Union, United Kingdom and China.