NATICK, Mass. – Sometimes it helps to see STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in action to make career possibilities come alive. That was the idea behind a recent STEM event hosted by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC.
Accompanied by 20 chaperones, 115 students from six high schools attended the event. The students toured DEVCOM SC’s worldclass facilities and interacted with the organization’s scientists and engineers. During their visit, students learned firsthand about DEVCOM SC’s work to ensure that the nation’s warfighters are protected, optimized and lethal.
“STEM outreach is an integral part of our mission,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of DEVCOM SC. “By visiting the Soldier Center, students learn about the important work being performed by our scientists and engineers, as well as the STEM career opportunities offered by the Soldier Center. New talent is key to invigorating our organization, and our worldclass scientists and engineers provide mentorship and inspiration to young minds.”
DEVCOM SC’s Yoojeong Kim, Ph.D., and Brady Loomer organized the event. Kim serves as the lead for DEVCOM SC’s Innovation and Outreach Team, and Loomer serves as DEVCOM SC’s STEM lead coordinator.
“The event gives us a chance to make connections to local high schools for further collaborations, which is vital to expand the SC’s STEM outreach in local communities,” said Kim. “Ultimately, through these types of events, we would like students to become aware of STEM careers in the Army and the DoD, either as a Soldier or a civilian, so that someday they will join the workforce to help keep our warfighters' technological dominance in the battlefield.”
During the event, students toured the Doriot Climatic Chambers and viewed the Aerial Delivery Division’s Parachute Simulator, or PARASIM, including a simulated jump. DEVCOM SC scientists and engineers also educated students about cold-weather clothing, chem-bio protective suits, ballistic and helmet technologies, combat feeding, shelters, and PM Force Sustainment Systems. Many of the briefings provided hands-on experiences, including opportunities to don Soldier equipment and sample combat rations.
“This event showcased technologies developed by DEVCOM SC scientists and engineers that are passionate about their careers because their work positively impacts Soldiers’ lives,” said David Colanto, Ph.D., program manager for the Integrated Multi-threat Headborne System at DEVCOM SC. “Hopefully, some of these students were not only inspired to pursue a STEM career but also to return as future Army interns and employees that help drive Soldier technology forward into the next generation.”
Loomer stated that the purpose of the event is to connect high school students with the innovative technology and science researched and developed at Soldier Center, as well as “to engage with teachers so that they can serve as conduits between the vast amount of technical knowledge at the Soldier Center and the students that they serve every day in their classrooms.”
Brian Rhodes, an Engineering and Robotics instructor at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, or BVT, praised the event.
"Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton is a career-technical high school,” said Rhodes. “Our field trip to the Soldier Center was a great experience for our Engineering shop students. Career Development Education starts with building awareness, and our students were able to see multiple STEM disciplines in action, working together in teams. They discovered advanced research and applied engineering is taking place every day right near home. And for them to see applied science and engineering so focused on the dismounted Soldier was a truly remarkable experience."
At the end of the visit, students received a DEVCOM SC commemorative poster, as well as an information sheet on the Department of Defense’s Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Scholarship for Service Program.
“These types of events and experiences play an essential and necessary role in a developing student’s life,” said Loomer. “There is no better way to learn and recognize the importance of STEM fields then seeing that work firsthand, meeting the real engineers and scientists that do this important work, and seeing Soldiers that the work is meant to directly impact.”
One student attendee summed up the spirit of the day.
“It’s fun,” said the student. “I’m learning a lot.”
About DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers are also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.
DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of 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 a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.