REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Nov. 5, 2018) -- For the 10th year, volunteers from U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Aviation & Missile, known to most as AMRDEC, took part in University of Alabama in Huntsville's Girls Science and Engineering Day Nov. 3.Lisha Adams, Army Materiel Command executive deputy to the commanding general, spoke at the opening ceremony."The saying we have is, 'If a soldier wears it, shoots it, flies it, drives it, eats it, rides it, the Army Materiel Command had something to do with providing it,'" Adams said. "We have thousands of engineers who support the Army each and every day and a lot of them were (once) little girls like you."AMRDEC has partnered with UAH from the inception of GSED by conducting STEM workshops and staffing technology displays using science, technology, engineering and math learning modules and activities, said Gayla Turner Spivey, AMRDEC K-20 Outreach, STEM Development, & Diversity Sustainment Programs Office.More than 500 girls in third through fifth grades and about 235 volunteers attended this year's event. Each girl went to four 40-minute, hands-on workshops -- one from each of the STEM disciplines -- on topics that include biology, space and rockets, medicine, space, mathematics, and physics."Numerous studies assert that quality STEM experiences during youth foster the likelihood of STEM career pursuits and that children exposed to STEM educational activities at a very young age perform better in science and math than children who are not," Spivey said.Teaching students engineering principles at a young age is vital for developing skills and interests in the many areas of life affected by this discipline, according to Antonio Grant, AMRDEC computer engineer."If you've ever watched a child at play, as they take things apart and put them back together, you see that children are natural engineers," Grant said. "I think it's essential to hone this innate ability early on to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills."Preconceived notions about engineering often deter students -- especially girls -- from pursuing education in this field, Grant posited. He said these type programs offer a window into the fun, innovative, and competitive side of engineering that will, hopefully, foster a new love for the discipline.Melissa L. Jackson, AMRDEC Operations program integration team, has volunteered at GSED for eight years -- three of which as a workshop lead. She said events like this are important to encourage girls to gain knowledge of science and engineering, areas in which there are sometimes few opportunities.Jackson said her interest in GSED piqued while she studied to be an engineer at UAH five years ago. "If we ignite a spark of interest in at least some of the girls in attendance, then our mission is accomplished," she said."I choose to share my time and talents with hopes of motivating and encouraging our younger generation because, indeed, what you sow into the lives of others is the harvest you will reap tomorrow," Jackson said. "As an engineer I am able to instruct and encourage them on how they, too, can be like me."Greg Massa is an information technology system administrator at AMRDEC and first-time volunteer who dabbles in 3-D printing in his spare time. "I enjoy helping kids understand the possibilities of a career in additive manufacturing," he said.Another first-time volunteer Jenny O'Rear, an AMRDEC Hellfire stockpile reliability program engineer, said GSED gets girls excited as they learn about science-related concepts that can lead to a career later in life."Our mantra, 'Inspiring the Minds of Tomorrow' is not a hollow cliché; it's a strategic STEM development priority imperative to future workforce talent building," Spivey said.AMRDEC hosted workshops in aviation and missile engineering and science experiments, computer and electrical engineering, math bowl and balloon tower design, and robotics technology.--The Aviation & Missile Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint Warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.