REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- When the 35 students of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College's Upward Bound program visited Thursday, they had no idea what to expect. In fact for many of the students the trip was not just their first time on Redstone but their first time out of southeastern Kentucky.

Upward Bound is a federally funded educational program, with the goal of inspiring students from low-income families, or potential first-generation college students, to complete high school and pursue secondary education. The purpose of the southeastern Kentucky group's trip was to inspire the students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers and expose them to different career paths.

"There is a huge need to get students interested in all things STEM at the junior college level," Dr. Lynn Moore, president of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, said. "Our hope is to get them interested in STEM and after they complete two years with us we can transfer them into a four-year university to finish their degree."

The stop at Redstone was one of a four-day trip. The group first visited Chattanooga for two days and then traveled to Huntsville for their Redstone day. The fourth and final day of the trip was spent exploring Hudson Alpha in Research Park and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Moore wanted to include Huntsville on the trip because she is a native and graduated from Grissom High School in 1975.

"I am so proud of growing up here and the experiences I have from living in Huntsville," she said. "There is no place like Alabama or Huntsville because of the national and global impact that places like Redstone Arsenal and Hudson Alpha have. I wanted to show the students what we do here and broaden their experiences since many of them have never been out of southeastern Kentucky before this trip."

During the group's Team Redstone day they visited the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville where they learned about different careers from Corps of Engineers' engineers, architects and interior designers.

"After this trip, I think I would like to be an architect," said rising 11th-grader, Tatyana King, a first year Upward Bound participant. "It seems really interesting and like a fun job."

After visiting the Corps the group traveled to Redstone Test Center's Test Area 5 where they learned about other technical and engineering careers as well got to see the team test a Hellfire flight motor.

"This has been the best part of the whole trip," Summer Bishop, a rising ninth-grader, said about watching the test for the Hellfire flight motor.

The students finished their day at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center's Huntsville Operations Support Center where they learned about the International Space Station and Huntsville's 24/7 support of the astronauts.