More than 350 high school juniors from across the Tennessee Valley toured Redstone Arsenal to learn about opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, during the 18th annual Adventures in Engineering Oct. 30.
The event is aimed at juniors of more than 20 local high schools to promote science and engineering disciplines as a career choice. It offers the students an opportunity to observe what engineers do on a daily basis, provide them with hands-on knowledge and encourage their pursuit of a science.
When speaking with students, Julie Schumacher, KODA Technologies Inc. president and CEO, said she encourages students to consider both military and civilian STEM opportunities in federal service. She said the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association is committed to do all they can do to promote STEM education and STEM fields in the community.
“We need to build the pipeline of STEM talent in our future generations,” Schumacher said. “Adventures in Engineering gives a glimpse into important engineering and analytical activities that are supporting our nation, right here in Huntsville. Our goal is to stimulate interest in STEM with students and let them know about opportunities we have here locally.
“The result of engineering is everywhere. Anything that has to be designed, tested, built and produced requires engineering skills. From the furniture you sit on to the rockets we launch, it’s everywhere.
“The event could not have been accomplished without the help of many organizations across Team Redstone and in industry. It was a true team effort across government and industry and something our community can be proud that we accomplished.”
The Adventures in Engineering program is designed to expose students to STEM opportunities and is sponsored by Air, Space and Missile Defense Association, the National Defense Industrial Association and Team Redstone. Local supporting organizations also include Redstone Arsenal tenets, University of Alabama in Huntsville and Calhoun Community College.
Organizations participating on Redstone Arsenal included the Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, the Missile and Space Intelligence Center, Space and Missile Defense Command, NASA and Missile Defense Agency.
“This is a blast, even for those who aren’t interested in engineering,” Matthew Bacon, a Madison Academy junior, said after visiting the SMDC Technical Center Concepts Analysis Laboratory. “If you like science and math, you would really fit in great here. This is a place where you could really excel and love your job.”
Students visiting the SMDC Simulation Center and the Concepts Analysis Laboratory witnessed several ongoing test programs and learned about various school and employment programs available. One former member of the CAL spoke to the students and explained how STEM programs offer many options if they are interested.
“The CAL was established to allow young, STEM students and recent graduates to get exposed to the ever-changing world of engineering work in the government,” said Kenya Lynch, general engineer, SMDC Technical Center’s High Energy Laser Division. “While I was in the CAL, I got a chance to meet and work alongside some very talented mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and even some computer scientists. Two of my most favorite projects I had the opportunity to work with while in the CAL were radars and nano-satellites.
“I challenge you all to think about what subjects you like and what you’re good at,” she told the students. “Then ask some of the people that you meet today for advice on how to make a career out of your interests. I appreciate your time and attention, and I hope you all learn something from your STEM-filled day.”
A student was curious about SMDC’s electrical engineering programs and 3-D printing capabilities as well as inquiring about job opportunities at SMDC.
“Today has been great,” Samantha King, a Mars Hill Bible School junior, said. “The engineering part we saw was very interesting. It opened my eyes a little bit to see some of their experiments.”