West's Marella completes summer enrichment program at MIT

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Special to the Herald

Daniel Marella, a rising senior at Cranston High School West and a Pre-Engineering/Robotics student at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center, was chosen from more than 400 applicants nationwide as one of 24 students to participate in a two-week summer residential project-based enrichment program.

The Lincoln Laboratory Radar Instruction Program for Student Engineers, or LLRISE, took place from July 14-July 27 on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Marella had the opportunity to live in an MIT dormitory, attend lectures on the campus, receive professional resume guidance, and participate in collaborative, hands-on engineering experiments at the Lincoln Laboratory.

The two-week program included weekend events on campus and trips to Boston, and it concluded with an Engineering Showcase, a comprehensive presentation of participants’ work with small radar systems in front of family members, a panel of engineers and laboratory staff.

“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to attend MIT, and this was definitely a determining factor as to whether I belonged there or not,” Marella said. “I got to spend two weeks on campus and I got a vibe there like no other. We were collectively like a big, nerdy family. It was a lot of hands-on work and it really modeled what we do here in Mr. Spidell’s program. I was lucky that I went in knowing a lot already. I made connections with the other students there, and I am still in touch with all of them every day. I also connected with the director of the LLRISE program and with the head director of the flight facility. I can come back and tour the flight facility at a later date.”

The program not only confirmed Marella’s goal of attending MIT but also helped him to solidify his future career goals within the field of engineering.

“Prior to participating in LLRISE, I thought I was interested in more chemical and biological engineering, but after this program, I’ve determined that mechanical engineering is more my focus,” Marella said. “It also definitely opened my eyes to the competition I’m up against. I met kids who owned businesses, who had invented things, and who had very high levels of mathematics education already. I’ve taken classes at CCRI and online in computer science, physics, and calculus outside of my high school day, but there were students there with very high levels of math experience.”

Marella’s guidance counselor at Cranston West, Deana Golini, spoke of his dedication to academics.

“He is not someone who does things like this just to beef up his resume,” she said. “He is a student who truly loves to learn.”

Jen Cowart is the communications specialist for Cranston Public Schools. 

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