eCYBERMISSION finalists tour APG
June 22, 2010
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 22, 2010) -- National finalists in the U.S. Army's eCYBERMISSION National Judging and Education Event that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics for American youth, are touring installation facilities here today, beginning a week that will culminate in the presentation of scholarships at an awards dinner Friday evening.
Managed by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, the eCYBERMISSION program awarded more than $800,000 to students from across the nation and in Department of Defense Education Activity schools overseas this year.
The 16 first-place regional winning teams, composed of three-to-four middle school students, are vying to be a national first-place winning team and win up to $8,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds.
During a stop for lunch at APG's Top of the Bay Club, they heard Dr. Augustus Way Fountain, chief scientist at Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, talk about the importance of education in the pursuit of a science and technology career.
"You have really achieved something you should be proud of," Fountain began. "I looked at the statistics and there were over 13,000 participants in eCYBERMISSION this year. You here today represent one-half of one percent all the participants.
"You are just now beginning a bright career in science and engineering," he added.
"I didn't start out as a chief scientist," he continued. "When I was in high school I participated in science fairs and science competitions much like you're doing right now. That, for me, led to a scholarship with the Army that led to me getting a degree in chemistry, and they completely paid for my college."
Fountain recapped his military career for the 60 middle schoolers listening intently to every word.
"For my masters degree I majored in laser spectroscopy, a unique field," he said. "I was learning how to take lasers (light) and transmit it over long distances to detect hazardous materials in the atmosphere and on the ground. That's a research area that I've been able to continue here today at Edgewood."
Fountain taught and conducted research at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for 12 years.
"I taught everything from general chemistry and basic science courses, all the way to senior level courses such as physical chemistry and inorganic chemistry. I had the opportunity to teach thousands of students, helping them to become scientists and engineers in the Army.
"I owe all of my education to the U.S. Army. They have invested heavily, not only in my education but in my entire career. It's that reason that I continue to serve our Army and our Nation - because I feel in my heart that I owe them that respect and admiration.
"There are lots of opportunities for scholarships to help pay for your education," Fountain continued.
"I encourage you to continue to take part in these types of events, not just to help prepare yourself for a career in science and engineering, but also to help your parents subsidize your education."
Fountain's words resonated with three young scientists from Lakeland, Fla. Calling themselves the "Strawberry Alliance," Rami Harb, Taylor Daugherty and Joey White (along with Kelsey Curlutu) from Lawton Chiles Middle Academy said they were here to win.
Their project, which Harb summarized as, "Water versus insulating foam in the protection of crops in freezing conditions" has significant and direct impact in their home state.
"We had 13 days of freezing weather this winter and the farmers were trying whatever they could to protect their crops," he said.
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