PHILADELPHIA -- Senior leaders from Aberdeen Proving Ground served as mentors to 225 pre-college students and engineering majors from East Coast colleges during a mentorship session at the 26th Black Engineer of the Year Awards Experience here Feb. 17.The annual BEYA Experience promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education. Students were invited to learn more about STEM careers by attending the BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference Mentorship Program. This was the second year the mentorship program has been offered as part of the BEYA Experience.Dale Ormond, recently installed as director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said he was impressed with the STEM outreach efforts."This is a great opportunity to bring in students who are interested in science and technology…because we need them. We've got to grow the next generation of scientists and engineers," Ormond said.Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell, commander, Communications-Electronics Command, and Maj. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, commander, Army Test and Evaluation Command, joined Ormond as mentors from APG. The overall military presence at the BEYA Experience was decidedly Navy-centric, due, in part, to the large Navy presence in Philadelphia. The Navy participation was headed by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, a Pennsylvania native.The uniformed audience turned out in full dress for the Stars & Stripes Dinner, one of the nation's largest events that honors active and retired black admirals, generals and members of the Senior Executive Service.Ormond alluded to a graying government workforce as he addressed the need to recruit young scientists and engineers."We know that a huge percentage of the federal workforce is eligible for retirement in the next couple years. We need them to be mentoring junior scientists and engineers. We've got to get them in the workforce," he said."The rate of change in technology is so fast, we need people who think differently than we used to think, to bring in some of those ideas and especially some of that energy. That's what we're seeing here today. I've just been impressed."Derhun Sanders, associate director of communications and outreach, U.S. Army Tank, Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., presented Army leadership awards to two students. Tariq Walker, an architectural engineering student at North Carolina A&T State University, and Kwame Marshall, an electrical engineering student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, earned recognition in front of their peers during the BEYA Student Leadership and Scholarship Dinner.Ormond said RDECOM and the Army will continue STEM outreach."You know budget is always an issue, but as best we can it is my intention to stay engaged with it and to continue to push it," he said."Our ability to bring in engineers at this time may not be the greatest, but to continue to encourage students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in this field is what we need to do."As I told some of the students today, it's all about what's in here (touching his heart). You gotta have it upstairs, but the people who do well do it because they love it and work hard and make themselves technically competent. They pursue excellence. For any of these students here who want to do that, they will absolutely be successful. It's all about pursuing the dream. You never know where you'll end up, so work hard and do what you like doing."