Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.--"Investing in the future" was the theme of the annual scholarship event of the Aberdeen Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications-Electronics Association.Over the past three years, the Aberdeen AFCEA Chapter has provided $106,000 in grants to teachers for toolkits that help educate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines as well as college scholarships to local high school students who pursue degrees in STEM.Gary Martin, deputy to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, served as the keynote speaker. He said, "Today there is a growing awareness of the importance and need for a workforce educated in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)….These disciplines underpin new scientific discoveries, solutions to complex problems, creation of innovation, and they drive new economic opportunities. "Aberdeen Proving Ground employs Maryland's third largest workforce, and is Harford County's largest employer with more than 20,500 military, civilian, and contractor employees. Therefore, Martin said, "Aberdeen Proving Ground and the industry that supports its mission are critically dependent on a strong STEM workforce. Scientists, engineers, information technology professionals, test engineers, analysts, and acquisition professionals are focused on developing new and innovative solutions to protect, enable, and sustain a world class military force."According to Martin, this region of the I-95 corridor is blessed with a community that comes together in a partnership of federal and local government, public school systems, institutions of higher education and industry to engage in STEM programs that fuel an interest in STEM and promote enriching experiences for our future scientist and engineers.For example, AFCEA's partnership with local public schools to enhance the STEM educational experience for students and to prepare them as the next generation of a technical workforce includes: scholarships, tools, equipment and mentors.The chapter provided science teacher toolkit grants of $2,000 each to two local science teachers. Gareth A. Davis, Jr., a science teacher at the Science and Math Academy in Aberdeen, Md. Davis has used the toolkit grant to buy a 3-D printer for the high school. Russell Kovach, a biology teacher at C. Milton Wright High School, used his grant to purchase equipment that allows the school's biology and biomedical engineering students to genetically modify bacteria.Offering his appreciation for the two teachers' contributions to STEM education, Martin said, "I commend you both for all you do for the advancement of science and mathematics in our public school systems. You are making a very positive impact each and every day."The AFCEA Chapter also presented college scholarships of $1,000 per year for four years to each of four students. Mauricio Tassano currently attends C. Milton Wright High School and plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Matt Mellarkey is currently a senior in the Science and Math Academy at Aberdeen High School and plans to study mechanical engineering at University of Maryland Baltimore County. Kourtney Rutkowski is a senior at C. Milton Wright High School and plans to attend UMBC for environmental engineering. Micah Jaffe is a senior at the Science and Mathematics Academy and plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a degree in either engineering or mathematics.The AFCEA Chapter also provided a scholarship to John Goodman who graduated from C. Milton Wright High School and is currently attending Harford Community College. This is a new scholarship program for the chapter that assists students in community colleges transition to STEM studies at a four-year institution. Goodman received $2,000 to attend the University of Maryland at College Park to major in computer science."The individuals being honored today reflect the significant talent, motivation, and dedication resident in our students and teachers. Students and teachers, after all, are the most important factors that contribute to the development of a robust foundation of students entering STEM related fields of study," Martin emphasized.Each awardee was recognized with a large mock check with the scholarship or grant amount indicated on it with a presentation by Martin, Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, and Alyssa Ranson, outgoing chapter president.Incoming chapter president Mike Bowen closed the event by calling attention to the chapter's new challenge coin. Its motto is "Investing in the future." He said the coin and its motto should serve as a prompt for each of the industry and government attendees to reflect upon their personal paths and those who invested time and talent to help them achieve their goals.
To the students and teachers present, he closed by simply saying, "The chapter is proud to be investing in you."AFCEA is a non-profit membership association composed of military, government,
industry and academia whose purpose is to advance professional knowledge in the fields of communications, information technology, intelligence, and global security. The Aberdeen Chapter has more than 450 members and meets on a monthly basis. More information about the organization can be found at: www.afcea-aberdeen.org.