By Tracy RobillardApril 9, 2014
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Many people associate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with building facilities on post; but what they may not know is that the Corps' involvement with a project doesn't stop when the building is complete.
A recent outreach event at Diamond Elementary school is just one example of how the Corps maintains relationships with its valued military customers and supports Army families beyond military construction (MILCON).
Members of the Corps' Fort Stewart Resident Office participated in a "STEMposium" April 4 to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Matt Kilmer, a mechanical engineer, and Craig Walters, a civil engineer, talked to an estimated 125 students in grades K-6 about STEM careers offered by the Corps of Engineers.
"Young children have an innate curiosity about the world around them," said Lemuel Patterson, instructional systems specialist for math and science education, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). "By tapping in to this curiosity, we can build upon their STEM awareness early on in their schooling."
Patterson said that the earlier students are exposed to engineering, the earlier teachers can get them interested and steer them toward subjects that will lead to STEM careers.
"We want to get them excited about STEM so we can build this profession," Kilmer said. "We want children to do well in STEM subjects and be better prepared for a technology-driven economy as they grow up."
The daylong event featured presentations from 33 groups, including the Corps of Engineers, Georgia Southern University, Savannah State University, Gulfstream, the Society of Women Engineers, and Georgia Power. A total of 920 students participated.
"We try to expose them to opportunities they can have in the future," Walters said. "Kids that like to build, draw, take things apart ... those interests can lead to a career in engineering. We want to guide them into something they're interested in, so they will be more likely to succeed in their career."
Patterson said the event supports a national security focus on a shortage of STEM professionals by providing career awareness and building a network among students, teachers and STEM professionals.
"The Army Corps of Engineers has been very supportive of our STEMposium, having participated last year and again this year," Patterson said.
The Corps will participate in another STEMposium at Fort Stewart on April 25 at Brittin Elementary. Additionally, members of the Corps will staff a booth at the Midway Middle School Career STEM Expo on April 22.