FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. Aca,!" Army research and development center teamed up with a local school in an ongoing effort to promote science, technology, engineering and math among students Nov 24.

The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center hosted students from Holy Family School for a tour. The 6th through 8th-graders visited two of the center's advanced research laboratories.

Students toured the Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, Communications System Design Center, where telecommunications specialist, Eric Williams, used hands-on activities for his presentation.

To facilitate student involvement Williams initially highlighted the similarities between the advanced technology applications he's currently working on and those readily available to the students, such as cell phones, home and school communications systems.

"The lab tour is an opportunity for the students to gain exposure to the type of work involved in engineering and scientific technology career fields. This is a learning opportunity they will not be able to find in their traditional classroom setting. I am hoping the information that the students gain from the tour can contribute to their decision making toward a successful career in the future," said Cindy Poon, branch chief of S&TCD's Tactical Network Branch.

The second stop on the tour took the group to Fort Monmouth's C4ISR, Automatic Virtual Environment. Here the students learned how resources such as 'Google Earth' and the latest in gaming technology are combined to create this virtual environment.

"We put on these goggles that made the screen in front of us look like we were actually there," said 7th grader Joanna Stasik. The engineers further emphasized the CAVE's potential for Army operations maneuverability and planning.

Lab manager Kevin Gordon and CAVE team lead Scott Carpenter, guided students as they stepped into the CAVE's immersive environment.

"By visiting the CAVE lab, Holy Family students were able to receive demonstrations of cutting edge 3D visualization technologies designed to meet Warfighter needs. They received a better understanding of how these technologies are developed as well as the latest advances in the field," Carpenter said.

While the students enjoyed the experience of the CAVE, they also enjoyed interacting with the hosting engineers.

"This is a once in a lifetime experience ... these people are the ones changing our life in a second. The tour wasn't the only thing that got my attention it was the people," said seventh-grade student, Jessica Sipili. Sixth graders Caroline Singer and Emily Errickson both said it was "enjoyable learning from experts in science, math and technology."

Students also had the opportunity to experience the newly acquired surface computing platform, Microsoft Surface. The Surface is a touch sensitive computer system that responds to hand gestures as well as other objects placed on its screen.

"The electronics were interesting. I really liked the touch screen computer," said 6th grader Gabriella Vill.

Following the tour, Erica Bertoli, Program Manager for CERDEC Outreach, briefed the students on the various Army sponsored programs in STEM related fields.

"As an Army research and development center, it is critical that we leverage the world class professionals and state of the art technology that are CERDEC to engage today's students in the hopes of creating tomorrow's engineers and scientists," Bertoli said.

For some of the students, the tour was more than about technology. Kimberly Granger, a 6th grader commented that "the people at Fort Monmouth try to make the fight easier and safer for the troops in Iraq."