FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Oct. 25, 2019) -- Youth and adult technology users here were asked for their ideas on what the Fort Sill Youth Center's renovated technology room should feature during a design charette Oct. 23, at the center.

The project was sponsored by the Department of Defense that partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Raytheon, which provided a grant to fund the renovations, said Susan Ciavolino, Boys and Girls Clubs of America director of youth development programs.

Six children from middle and high schools, and home school; and 11 adults were involved in the preliminary planning where they proposed what the room might look like.

"This is a time for the youth to shine and to provide ideas that their leaders at the youth center will be able to act on and to create something very special, and very useful and beneficial for them," Ciavolino said.

Logan Strickland, age 16, a sophomore at Lawton High School, was one of the children at the charrette. He said he enjoys science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.

"Engineering is a lot of fun for me … it's hands on," said Strickland, who said he wants to work as pilot after serving in the military.

The participants were broken into five small groups. Each group had to answer one of the following design questions:

-Who are the users in the space?
-What is the purpose of the space?
-What activities will happen here?
-What types of tools and materials might be needed?
-What kind of atmosphere do we want to create?

Ciavolino said it was important to hear from those who will be using the technology room.

"Any time we try to do something for someone without having listened to them first, we usually miss the mark so we want to have them, especially youth, that ability to create the vision," she said referring to input for the technology room. "When it's done they own that space -- it's theirs emotionally."

The renovated technology room should be completed by April, in time for the Month of the Military Child, she said.

Raytheon supports military connected youth in their STEM endeavors, Ciavolino said. Fort Sill is the first installation to use Raytheon's fiscal year 2020 grants, which are designed to enrich youth with 21st century technology.

The majority of future jobs will require STEM skills, Ciavolino said. And, the soft skills you get from STEM work -- teambuilding, communication, listening, leadership -- are traits employers look for.

"Not only that, but STEM's just fun," she said, "Things explode; and fly."