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Lisa Smagala, right, an industrial engineer at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, demonstrates the Iraqi Light Armored Vehicle surrogate to Ethan Hart, a 10th-grader at Perryville High School, during a tour coordinated through the STEM Academy Summer Camp in Cecil County June 23.

As a part of the ongoing effort to encourage students to pursue careers in science and engineering, the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center hosted a tour for 9th- and 10th-graders enrolled in Cecil County Public School's Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics Academy Summer Camp June 23.

With an eye on career exploration, the 25 students were given a glimpse of the Center's Advanced Design and Manufacturing facility, Mobile Laboratories and Kits and the Protection Factor Testing Facility during a tour led by Dr. James Baker, ECBC assistant technical director.

"This was an excellent opportunity for young students who would otherwise have no idea that these career opportunities exist," said Andy Borzok, a physics teacher with the STEM Academy.

Part of the tour was led by Nick Merrill, a senior mechanical engineering major at the University of Maryland, who is hoping to turn his four years as an intern at ECBC into a full-time career upon graduation. Merrill's experience has taken him from intern to tour guide and allows him to show students touring the center that the work being done at ECBC is challenging and fun. Merrill guided the students through the ADM facility's rapid prototyping area and gave them an inside look at how concepts born at ECBC become vital solutions that protect the Warfighter abroad as well as emergency responders defending the homeland.

The excursion to ECBC was organized as a part of a week-long, two-track summer camp that offers students the option to investigate STEM- or ecology-focused careers with hands-on exploration.

Although schools are closed for the summer, the camp is an extension of the STEM Academy, a rigorous and highly competitive program for Cecil County students studying mathematics, science and engineering with a focus on lab work and real world experience. School officials recently created STEM Academies within each of the county's five high schools, extending an enrollment opportunity to every student.

The students were impressed to discover that the center's clients span the federal government to include other service components of the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, to name a few.

"The STEM Academy's summer camp has allowed me to see many job opportunities," said Ethan Hart, a 10th-grader at Perryville High School. "Coming here to the excellent facilities at ECBC has given me an interesting view for a future career."

"The professionals at ECBC did a great job of exposing the students to the potential opportunities within the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, which is exactly what the objective was for this one week STEM summer camp," said Kathy Kunda, coordinator of the Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council, Cecil County Public Schools.

Other ECBC participants included Mark Schlein, Leroy Stitz, Kari Carter, Nicole McKew and Paul Demond.

For more information on future educational outreach opportunities at ECBC, contact Mary Doak, mary.doak@us.army.mil.

Page last updated Thu July 30th, 2009 at 14:50