Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, visited the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville March 5-7.

During his stay in Huntsville, Bostick toured the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Huntsville Solid Waste to Energy Facility and met with Redstone Arsenal leadership.

He also took time to mentor future military officers when he visited with more than 30 cadets from the Alabama A&M University Reserve Officer Training Corps making a pitch for the future Soldiers to look to considering careers focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Bostick explained it is estimated that in four years the nation will require more college graduates with STEM backgrounds to fill the growth of STEM-focused jobs. The Department of Commerce estimates a 17 percent growth in STEM jobs by 2018 versus 9.8 percent in other fields.

Bostick also explained the need for minorities in the STEM fields and said Alabama A&M University is doing a good job of producing STEM graduates.

"These aren't easy decisions to make (regarding STEM careers), but I can tell you there is a cadre of people here (ROTC) who will help you find your path and it's up to you to make the decision," Bostick said.

Bostick went on to say whether one makes a career of the military or the private sector, life-long learning is one of the greatest aspects of success.

"After I graduated from West Point, I didn't even think about going back to school. As far as I was concerned, I was done," Bostick said. "But here I am now with two master's degrees. After I took a break for a few years, I realized the importance of furthering my education, and I can tell you that it's important to keep learning."

Bostick said that although STEM-focused careers are important to the nation and the Army, the cadets shouldn?'t forget to focus on their ability to communicate well.

"You will succeed or fail on your abilities to read and write effectively. Communication is an art, and you need to know how to read quickly and retain the information and how to effectively convey ideas in writing, so work on your communication skills now and it will make all the difference in the world," Bostick said.