By Jeff Sisto, NSRDECNovember 25, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (Nov. 26, 2013) -- Members of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center attended the 2013 Massachusetts Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Summit, recently held at Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro, Mass.
It was the state's 10th annual STEM summit meeting, and the second year in a row that school administrators, educators, industry, business, academia and state representatives gathered at the home of the New England Patriots to celebrate and strengthen the state's STEM education pipeline. Nearly 1,300 people attended the event.
Since 2009, under the leadership of Gov. Deval Patrick, the state of Massachusetts has sought to bolster the education of students in STEM fields through the implementation of STEM Plan 1.0 and the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.
The Governor's STEM council is made up of academic, business, and government leaders, and serves as a vehicle for STEM advocates from both public and private sectors, charged with enhancing the state's STEM education programs and increasing student interest in STEM.
Patrick reinforced the overarching goals of the council when he spoke at the summit.
"Sustaining and widening Massachusetts' leadership in STEM is in not only our collective economic self-interest, but it is our generational responsibility to provide the best possible opportunities to stimulate the minds and broaden the potential of our children and grandchildren," Patrick said.
Joining the summit by video feed from Washington D.C., Rep. Joseph Kennedy, honorary chair of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, unveiled the Massachusetts' STEM Plan 2.0, known as "Expanding the Pipeline for All: Massachusetts' Plan for Excellence in STEM Education."
"STEM lies at the intersection of education, economics, and social justice." Kennedy said. "It is a vehicle not just for growth and innovation but for access and opportunity. Massachusetts has led the way in setting a national STEM agenda. STEM Plan 2.0 builds on that success and works to expand our efforts even farther, so that zip code, skin color, and gender can no longer be used as indicators of a person's interest or achievement in STEM."
The new plan applies improved data metrics and sets the direction for the years ahead with concrete strategies to catalyze action around the goals of the plan.
The NSRDEC has been in lock-step with the state to realize these goals, and is playing an expanding role in increasing student interest in STEM subjects while aligning work force needs and opportunity with STEM talent pipelines.
Donna Bulger, the NSRDEC's Associate Director for Operations and Outreach, sits on the Governor's STEM Advisory Council providing an essential link between the state's STEM community and the Army.
"NSRDEC has a vested interest in promoting STEM education and fostering STEM partnerships," Bulger said. "There is a wealth of science and technology in our Soldier mission area that can be easily translated into STEM lesson plans. We take every opportunity we can to work across the communities in Massachusetts to share our efforts with teachers and students to inspire the next generation of great problem solvers."
The Army has long recognized that a scientifically and technologically literate population is a critical underpinning for ensuring the security and success of the nation.
Through the Army Educational Outreach Program, NSRDEC often hosts STEM- related school visits to its facilities and laboratories, while many of its scientists and engineers serve as mentors to STEM students from local elementary through secondary schools.
Through the Department of the Army's eCYBERMISSION Program, the NSRDEC scientists and engineers also act as judges for local and national web-based competitions that encourage students to address real problems in their communities through STEM-based solutions.
eCYBERMISSION is a free, web-based science, math and technology competition for students in grades six through nine targets diverse participants of all proficiency levels, interests and backgrounds.
NSRDEC representatives participated in the summit by providing a display demonstrating recent innovations in Army science and technology. Representatives also attended breakout sessions that included presentations and discussions focused on how to best expand the interest and opportunity for growth in STEM fields.
It was also an opportunity for NSRDEC STEM representatives to strengthen existing relationships and create new ones within the growing STEM community, paving the way for more local school visits and the potential for cultivating future STEM interest.
NSRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.