ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - More than 100 regional educators, industry leaders and government employees gathered at the Battelle Eastern Science & Technology Center in Aberdeen March 30 for STEM Summit V, the fifth in a series of meetings addressing the needs of science, technology, engineering and mathematics career development in the local community.

Attendees discussed the year's accomplishments and need for improvement. The event marked STEM Summit V's first anniversary and was attended by APG employees, including U.S. Army
Communications-Electronics Command deputy to the commanding general and STEM Summit co-chair Gary P. Martin. The regional meetings, hosted by the Northeast Maryland Technology Council, are held every 100 days.

"Meeting every one hundred days conveys a sense of urgency," said John W. Casner, executive director of NMTC. "This is such an important issue. At the national level, we are falling behind our global competitors when it comes to STEM education. If we don't do something about it, eventually our quality of life will suffer."

Casner said students need to be STEM literate to compete in today's economy, especially in this region, with its proximity to APG--a science and technology hub. To address this challenge, local professionals are mentoring students at the elementary, middle and high school levels, and providing support to teachers.

"We want to develop homegrown talent. We are hoping this cause becomes important to a lot of people," Casner said. "We want to spread resources by encouraging more people to mentor. Mentoring doesn't necessarily mean classroom visits; it could be a weekly phone call or a quick e-mail."

In addition to remarks from Regina Schofield, the Director of Corporate Engagement and Education Outreach at Battelle, and Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Tomback, the summit featured a panel discussion from female high school students who have excelled in STEM subjects.

Malana Linton is a senior in Elkton High School's STEM program and said she benefited from working with her mentor, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Dr. Brady Redmon, who helped her with her senior project. Linton received a full scholarship from the Navy Reserve Officers' Training Corps and plans to study physics at the University of California, Los Angeles campus.

"Some of my classes are very challenging, and I have struggled," she said. "But it encouraged me to know that there are people working in the field, that you can use what you are learning in school. If you find someone you can emulate, you are more likely to not give up."

Kamini Mallick, a senior at Aberdeen High School's Science and Math Academy, said she has also benefited from an APG mentor, Dr. Heidi Hoard-Fruchey of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. Last summer Mallick was in MRICD's Science Engineering Apprenticeship Program. During the school year, Hoard-Fruchey assisted Mallick with her senior capstone project.

"She has absolutely been influential," Mallick said. "Handson experience has grown my understanding of science."

STEM Summit VI is set June 28. To be included on the STEM Summit mailing list, call Casner at 443-360-9132. For more information, visit www.nmtc.org.