ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (March 31, 2021) – Army Futures Command (AFC) is furthering interest in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career fields through a new virtual program targeting high school students.
The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – which is a component of the AFC’s Combat Capabilities Development Command – is offering Life Hacks: Topics in STEM and Leadership, a program that gives students the opportunity to discuss academic and professional topics with Army STEM experts.
“I started thinking about how many kids during this COVID-19 crisis don’t have somebody accessible to them who is able to answer questions about physics. It’s not one of those topics that every parent is able to pinch hit,” said Erica Fineman-Bertoli, the C5ISR Community Outreach team lead who oversees the program.
“However, with the high school kids, it’ not as appealing for them to sit online and watch an engineer in a remote place do a science experiment. They have to be personally motivated and engaged, so we designed a program that would be meaningful to them,” Fineman-Bertoli said.
While Life Hacks provides information that can help students navigate their high school STEM classes, it also helps them confidently address future STEM career-related choices such as preparing for college, applying for scholarships, looking for internships, behaving professionally at career fairs and even presenting oneself online.
“It’s something our kids need to be aware of – what you say has consequences, and what you put on Social Media can have a direct impact on your ability to get into college, get a scholarship or even get a job, as schools and employers look at social media presence as a part of the application process,” Fineman-Bertoli said.
Abubakarr Bah, a junior studying mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware, advised students on college studying tips and having the courage to ask for help when it’s needed.
“Some students are too proud to ask for help from teachers or friends, but I wanted to let them know that there’s nothing wrong with that. I also talked to them about how I got interested in STEM through two C5ISR programs, and how through that, I learned skills that led me to getting an internship with the Navy two years in a row,” said Bah, who participated in the Center’s Community Outreach STEM programs since he was in 5th grade.
Jeremy Zwirn, a C5ISR Center electronics engineer, discussed what civilian careers in the Army offer, highlighting the presentation with photos of his professional travels across the United States and abroad.
“One thing I shared is that they shouldn’t be afraid of pursuing a career in STEM. It’s different from high school; it’s not as individual, and they’ll be working in teams. Also, it’s not all work and no play. They shouldn’t feel it’s an all-encompassing career where they’ll never have a social life or never have any fun,” Zwirn said.
The C5ISR Center is using STEM outreach efforts such as Life Hacks to build and maintain a pipeline of STEM talent who can develop innovative solutions, which in turn, helps the Nation to maintain its competitive edge, Fineman-Bertoli noted.
“Our goal is to remain a resource for the community. Once you’ve come to a Life Hacks session, you’re connected to us. If you have STEM questions, you can email our office, and we’ll do our best to connect you with someone who has an answer,” Fineman-Bertoli said.
To find out more about Life Hacks or the Center’s other STEM-based activities for youths, visit the C5ISR Center Educational Outreach Program page.
The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The C5ISR Center is an element of U.S. Army DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is an AFC major subordinate command.