Students Learn about Potential Careers through Adventures in Engineering Day
October 2, 2009
- More than 200 students visited SMDC/ARSTRAT Wednesday to learn about engineering career opportunities
- Students also visited other Redstone organizations, for a total of more than 300 participants
- Virtual Sandbox, a touch-screen table-top display, gave students a chance to control demonstration
- Students had the opportunity to track and shoot down a target with a foam interceptor in the Technical Center lab
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.-- On Wednesday, Sept.30, more than 200 high school students visited the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT) as part of the 9th Annual Adventures in Engineering Day.
Aimed at high school juniors, Adventures in Engineering (AIE) is a day for Redstone organizations to promote science and engineering disciplines as a career choice to local students. It offers the students an opportunity to observe what engineers do on a daily basis, provides them with hands-on knowledge and encourages their pursuit of a science profession in the city of Huntsville, keeping the best and brightest students within the state.
At SMDC/ARSTRAT, students visited two different locations, one representing the Future Warfare Center and another representing the Technical Center. The FWC's Simulation Center showcased "Virtual Sandbox," an interactive system combining Google Earth/Virtual Alabama and a Microsoft Surface device, used for planning by emergency response personnel. Students had the opportunity to try their hand at games and puzzles on the touch-screen tabletop, and most were understandably impressed.
"I'm into this kind of stuff," said Trey McMeans, a junior at Clements High School interested in computer engineering and web design. "I have seen some neat stuff before, but nothing this advanced," he said.
"I'm a person that loves computers, and being able to actually touch the screen to use the computer is really neat," said Gretchel Fernandez, a JROTC student and sophomore at Columbia High School who stated that she may be interested in video game design.
"I like working with my hands and this computer uses your fingers and hands to create three-dimensional things, which is really awesome," Fernandez said.
At the Technical Center laboratory, students were shown a variety of projects that SMDC/ARSTRAT personnel work on, from the SMDC-ONE nanosatellite to sensors shaped like rocks that are meant to detect potential enemy movement on the battlefield.
One highlight there was a "live-fire" demonstration of a small-scale Air Defense System, where students were able to try to engage a target using a joystick to aim and fire the foam rocket interceptor.
The model was built primarily from common household parts and by college students, which made the significance of creating it even more impactful for the students.
"I like the idea of using common things to develop technology like what we saw in the lab where a missile was built to track and shoot down an aircraft," said Stephan Cathcart, a Columbia High School sophomore interested in computer science.
Overall, the students seemed to understand that the essential component of SMDC/ARSTRAT's work is using technology to benefit the Warfighter.
"I like that the technology for that (rock) sensor is being used for important and good things like protecting our Soldiers," Fernandez said.
"This is really cool," said Cathcart. "I've had the chance to see how far our world has progressed in technology with some of the things we saw today," he said.
Exemplifying the intent of the day, Dakota Wood, a junior at West Limestone High School who now may want to study engineering, said, "the things that I saw here today are really creative and advanced. I didn't know there was technology like this out there."
While on Redstone Arsenal, students also visited the Missile Defense Agency, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), and the Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC).
Students started and ended the day at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)'s Chan Auditorium in the Business Administrative Building. The Junior Achievement of Northern Alabama coordinates students' participation, while the Air Space and Missile Defense Association (ASMDA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and UAH host the event.