MILTON, Mass. - Last spring, Col. Charles Samaris, New England District commander, traveled to the Pierce Middle School in Milton, Mass., to get students there excited about the engineering field.

Samaris joined two representatives from the Society of American Military Engineers for the event that was sponsored by the School to Careers Partnership from Canton, Mass.

About 75 students listened to Samaris talk about his days as a young man doing architect work in his father's office. The New England District commander asked the children if they liked to build things and to name all the different types of engineers they knew. He told the children that if they wanted to be engineers, hard work and dedication pays off.

"You don't have to be a straight A student to be an engineer," he said. "Just work hard."

The colonel spoke to the children and answered questions for about 15 minutes. He said it was important to reach out to children and get them excited about engineering.

"We don't have enough young people going into the hard sciences," he said. "I support the STEM program. It's important because 50 years from now we won't be able to compete with other countries if we don't."

Samaris said if he could give children any advice, he would say, "Be your own person. Figure out what you want to do, do it and find a good mentor. That's what our nation needs. We need strong people who think for themselves."

In the past, Col. Samaris has participated in events that focus on leadership and engineering for young people. These include Boy Scout Awards ceremonies, Reading with a Hero, SAME Robotics demonstrations and New England District's own introduction to Science and Engineering Program, "Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day."