Northrop Grumman’s ability to expedite funding to its supply base has proved critical, especially to small businesses....
Turning Dreams into Reality
Aaron Dolgin, a Northrop Grumman engineer and mentor with the FIRST® Robotics Competition program, saw his students’ disappointment when the pandemic interrupted their competition schedule. He also quickly discovered their desire to help.
Aaron teamed up with a friend and fellow engineer to bring together their combined networks of high school robotics teams, college students and community and professional makers together. The goal? Produce new personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line medical workers.
What started as a small group of dedicated individuals has now expanded into a 150-person organization. Known as the SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team, the group has a GoFundMe page and has raised more than $20,000. Volunteers can sign up online as well as donate to the cause. As of June 2020, the team has donated more than 20,000 PPE items to 160 medical centers across the country, with new requests arriving daily.
Aaron guided his robotics teams to develop 3D-printed face shields, mask straps, ear savers and other critical PPE. Many students used their own printers. Other students supported SoCal Makers by assisting with supply chain management, social media outreach, contacting the press, and improving the face shield designs.
“It has shown them that the skills they’re learning on their FIRST® Robotics teams are applicable not just for building robots, but everywhere,” Aaron explained.
“We’re making deliveries every single day, and the number of medical centers, nursing centers, pharmacies, hospitals, paramedics in need are growing…I’m getting texts and emails every day from people who want to get involved,” said Aaron.
Aaron’s passion for engineering and robotics isn’t new. It started with his childhood pastime of using LEGO bricks to build contraptions; his involvement in the FIRST® Robotics Competition program began when he joined his own high school’s robotics team years ago. That participation fostered his love for engineering and electronics and provided him an opportunity to engage with knowledgeable peers.
Having childhood pursuits turn into a career at Northrop Grumman is a dream come true for Aaron. Now a communications system engineer and part of the NG Pathways program, he has gone a step further by using his skills to help fight a pandemic. (The NG Pathways program provides Northrop Grumman’s entry-level talent with early-career development, as well as opportunities to experience multiple rotations in core areas of the business.)
“Ever since I was 10, I wanted to be an engineer,” shared Aaron. “As I grew up and learned what I wanted to do, I focused on specific things within engineering. It has been very rewarding to see what I wanted to do as a kid come to reality.”