In 2013, CRI’s dedicated boatman and three students from the Boston Public Schools designed, tested, and constructed an innovative electric wakeless safety launch with applications in rowing, triathlon, swimming, and other water-based activities. This project, which originated from our need to replace our current fleet of launches, grew into an incredible learning experience for three BPS teens. In the coming years, we intend to take the next steps with this program—manufacturing and selling launches—and will continue working with BPS to provide relevant work experience and hands-on learning opportunities in math and sciences for underserved and at-risk youth.
The LAUNCH project offers a once-in-a-lifetime employment and enrichment opportunity for 10 BPS youth to be involved in the process of building boats—and building a new business. Using an apprenticeship model with guidance from CRI’s boatman and our Executive Director, youth learn how to make a three-dimensional model using computer-aided design software, visit the facility where the new launches are being made, learn how to assemble the hull and deck, participate in speed testing, and learn the physics behind the boats’ performance and horse-power requirements. Participants also take part in the marketing and sales of the product—coming up with the name, logo, and branding and learning the accounting procedures associated with starting a new business.
Once the launches have been assembled, youth are grouped into teams and develop their own research projects related to the functioning of the new electric launches. The teams can choose from a variety of projects that include comparing the carbon footprint of electric launches with that of gas-powered launches, determining the viability of adding a solar-powered charging station to the boat, and writing a marketing plan for the sale of these launches. The summer culminates with a “science fair” where students present their research to our staff, their families, members of the community, and our funders and then head out onto the river for an afternoon of fun on the new launches they helped create.
By providing meaningful employment and guiding youth through the many facets of boat design and small business development, CRI’s LAUNCH project helps youth explore career options in science and engineering and gives them the tools and motivation they need to create a solid future for themselves. We believe that LAUNCH equips these young people with the skills, confidence, and desire to complete high school and pursue postsecondary education. In addition, and perhaps just as importantly, youth in the program forge strong personal relationships and gain a sense of pride and accomplishment that will carry them forward on whatever path they choose.