Army encourages STEM education

ORLANDO, Fla. - A U.S. Army leader told about 300 high school students that America's freedom depends on their future achievements in science and technology.

The Army's top noncommissioned officer for research and development, Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, encouraged the students to strive for excellence in science education. That goal is vital to maintain the country's strength and national security, he said.

"We need your support. I need your support," Marin said. "It doesn't matter whether you wear the [military] uniform or a lab coat as a scientist or engineer. I need your support. That's why I'm here. It is critical."

He spoke Oct. 7 during the Viva Technology Program at the 2010 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference. Great Minds in STEM is a nonprofit organization that promotes careers and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for students in kindergarten through college.

Marin presented a slideshow with photos that demonstrated how the work of Army scientists translates to the battlefield. Images of chemists and physicists, along with Soldiers in the battlefield using their weapons vehicles, flashed before the audience. He applauded the research efforts.

"Empower, unburden and protect [Soldiers] is what our young scientists and engineers are doing for our nation," he said. "Everything you saw on that video is because of hard science and engineering by people just like yourselves."

Marin told the crowd that America's future depends on them. Pursuing an education is vital to the students' success in life, as well as helping to ensure a secure homeland.

"Each and everyone in this room is critical to our national security... Our future is dependent on you, not only for yourself, but for your country," he said. "It is dependent on you to secure the future for our nation."

The conference brings together the Hispanic community, academia, corporations and government to engage in the country's scientific future. About 3,000 students from across the country will participate in the conference. U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is engaging top Hispanic science and engineering students to grow the command's minority technical talent.

Marin shared the story of his life as a child in Honduras before moving to the United States at age 10. He asked the students to look to him as a role model in overcoming difficult circumstance to succeed.

"I didn't have anything growing up. I didn't have shoes. I had a pair of shorts and suspenders, and I ran around the whole day pushing a tire. That's the only toy I had," he said. "I had nothing to look forward to except hope, strong spiritual fitness and the values that were given to me by my parents."

He enlisted in the Army in 1981 because of a passion for aviation. During his career, he has earned bachelor's and master's degrees. He encouraged the students to explore and pursue their interests. Their success will determine the nation's direction.

"If you fail, you're not contributing," Marin said. "Then we'll be in trouble as a nation. We, as a nation, will not be able to build the technologies and innovations. We're depending on you. I'm depending on you. When you start selecting careers, you need to make sure whatever you select is challenging, rewarding and exciting.

"Use your resources. Resources are your teachers, parents and mentors who will help you achieve your goals. You have to be able to leverage those resources so you can reach the next level."

The conference will last three days as organizers recognize achievements of Hispanic engineers and students pursuing an education in science.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16