Army supports summer career camp
ECBC Research Biologist Saumil Shah (right) helps JHS summer career camp students Felicia Arnone (left) and Asia Weaver (center) with a hands-on pipetting experiment at the DNA Extraction and Gel Electrophoresis Station.

Adding excitement to JHS's one-week summer career camp, workforce members of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center offered 17 ninth- to 12th-grade students a tour of the Center's facilities June 23. The following day, ECBC scientists engaged JHS students in CSI: Joppatowne, a series of hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities customized to the school's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program.

"We have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with ECBC's Community and Educational Outreach Program Manager Mary Doak over the past two years. She has been great in taking every one of our requests seriously," said Zackery Lovelace, JHS summer career camp coordinator. "ECBC has provided us with opportunities that we couldn't get anywhere else such as showing our students U.S. Army laboratories.

ECBC's Directorate of Program Integration Executive Officer Eric Stevens opened the tour welcoming the group of JHS students at the Center's Advanced Design and Manufacturing Facility and highlighting ECBC's dire need for a highly skilled STEM workforce in the future.

"As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure implementation, there are approximately 7,000 jobs coming to the area that will provide you exciting career opportunities." Stevens said. "We will need a large workforce in STEM-related career fields as well as operational support to counter chemical biological radiological nuclear explosive threats."

ECBC Computer Scientist Jeffrey Warwick, who leads the Conceptual Modeling and Animation branch within the ADM Division, talked about some exciting career pathways that could enable students to turn their hobby into a rewarding profession at the Center.

"We [artists and computer scientists] create movies and video games to accurately explain concepts and processes to our customers. Then, we collaborate with our engineers for the rapid development of prototypes," Warwick said. "Within only three weeks, the ADM team designed, built, and began testing a gripping claw to enhance the capability of the Buffalo Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Route Clearance Vehicle."

After visiting the Center's Protection Factor Test Facility, designed to evaluate chemical protective capabilities of respirator systems such as masks, the JHS group toured the Mobile Lab Design and Development area.

At this part of the Center, ECBC Mechanical Engineer George Noya and Biologist Carrie Poore, Ph.D. showed students an ECBC mobile laboratory from the inside and demonstrated mission-critical equipment such as portable gloveboxes and filtration systems. They also explained how
mobile laboratories help the warfighter make fast decisions with a positive impact on the battlefield.

"Mobile labs are deployable military assets that enable U.S. Armed Forces to perform on-the-spot analysis anywhere in the world," Poore said. "For soldiers to get the answers they need in theater, the ability to collect samples and receive a 24-hour assessment of an unknown agent
is essential."

Supported by the National Defense Education Program and as an additional part of JHS's summer career camp, ECBC scientists turned JHS classrooms into a CSI:Joppatowne setting and engaged summer career camp participants in STEM experiments.

ECBC Mechanical Engineer Phillip Wilcox, Research Biologists Saumil Shah and Lisa Smith and Branch Chief of Chemical Analysis Physical Properties Michael Ellzy, Ph.D. started the educational investigation with a briefing about the areas that form the foundation of ECBC's research, development and engineering efforts, detection, protection and decontamination.

JHS students rotated through three ECBC-themed work stations that included the Hazard Response and Presumptive Identification Station; the DNA Extraction and Gel Electrophoresis Station; and the Surface Tension, Surfactants and Oil Spill Station. At each station, the Center's scientists addressed everyday challenges they face within their area of expertise and the type of equipment and approaches they use to deliver solutions against potential chemical biological threats.

"I thought this [CSI:Joppatowne] was awesome, especially since I enjoy working with machines," said JHS student Tyler Wilson. "Also, walking through ECBC buildings was a great experience."

The close collaboration between JHS and ECBC resulted in a successful educational outreach effort that taught students about exciting STEM opportunities in their backyard.

"I think I can speak for all of us when saying that you were a wonderful group to work with," Doak addressed the students. "And, I would like to emphasize how rewarding a career with the government can be."

"As our scientists also have every-day jobs and work in demanding positions, I am very grateful for their time and work with CSI: Joppatowne today," she added.

Lovelace was very thankful for the opportunity to visit ECBC facilities with his summer career camp and to host the ECBC workforce members who investigated STEM-related challenges with JHS students.

"Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity," he wrote. "It was awesome and the students loved it. I always look forward to working with you."

Page last updated Wed July 28th, 2010 at 00:00