BALTIMORE (Feb. 19, 2010) - Hundreds of students from an eight-state area learned about civilian opportunities in the science, technology and engineering fields and during a presentation here today by Research, Development and Engineering Command Executive Deputy Commander Gary Martin.
An Army-developed robot served as a visual aid, delivering a bottle of water to Martin during his presentation.
The kindergarten through 12th grade students were attending the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference, taking place this weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center. Martin led an RDECOM contingent who were on site to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and show those about to enter the workforce the opportunities open to them at the Army's research, development and engineering command.
"You can work for the Army and not wear a helmet or fire a weapon. Your weapon is your mind," Martin said.
"RDECOM, the command I'm part of, has facilities in about a dozen states and the base realignment process is opening up a lot of jobs in this and other areas in the next four or five years, and then more as some of the people we have now start to retire," he said.
"While I represent the Army command, it could be someone up here from the Navy or the Air Force or other parts of the Department of Defense. They all need scientists and engineers to tackle the challenges we have defending the country."
The senior civilian at the 17,000-plus command then detailed some of the programs the students could take part in beginning in elementary school and continuing through college, such as the eCYBERMISSION program, Gains in Education of Math and Science, and the Science & Engineering Apprentice Program.
"These are national programs, some done by the Army and some throughout the Department of Defense," Martin said. "If you like math and science we want to engage you in that early on. "
Martin also pointed out an area of interest and a set of skills the audience already had that people of his generation lacked and that Army and industry leaders were still coming to grips with.
"Your generation is always plugged in, and it gives you some abilities we don't have. Your ability to seamlessly interact and collaborate with people you've never met will be a tremendous asset to us, to industry to everybody who is hiring the next generation of people. We're struggling to figure out how to use that."
Those abilities will be useful, he said, but the former Solider and long-time Army engineer also reminded the students what the basis for success is.
"Study," Martin said. "Focus on your educational skills. We're not looking for students who get all As, but what the people we hire do exhibit is a desire to work hard at what they do. So if you're working hard and have decent grades, then we're interested in you.
"And if you're not sure if you want to work in one of these areas now, don't turn off the math and science opportunities, because they are hard to turn back on later. Math is a foundation that allows you to do many, many things in life."