Crane, Ind. -- Crane Army Ammunition Activity helped to enable a local area high school Engineering Challenge April 12 by providing material and judges as part of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.
The Engineering Challenge, held at Linton-Stockton High School, challenged local Indiana students from Linton, Bloomfield, White River Valley, Shakamak, and Northview High Schools to compete in problem-solving events. The events included balloon car, bridge building, zip line, parachute drops, ball launchers, helping hands and tower building competitions.
CAAA provided funds through its STEM program that enabled the competition to purchase the material needed for the events. CAAA employees Civilian Executive Assistant Norman Thomas, Resource Management Director and STEM Program Director Debbie DeLaney and Civil Engineer Matt Deaton took part as judges of three of the competitions. It is part of CAAA's effort to help its surrounding community and enhance the education for local students.
"Prominent economists agree that no investment generates a greater long-term return to the economy than scientific Research and Development, and that starts with our educational systems. It is projected that Indiana will have 123,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related jobs that will need to be filled by 2018," DeLaney explained. "We at CAAA want to invest in our local students, as we feel many of those students will chose to stay in the area and we will need their expertise in the future. By investing in their STEM education now, we will be provided with employees who have skill sets that can be improved and adapted to our needs in the upcoming years. In addition, STEM related occupations pay more than the state average which allows these young people to not only help with our national security but also improve their quality of life."
Deaton, who judged the ball drop competition, commented that it was exciting to watch the students get involved with their projects and come up with different designs until they found one that worked.
According to the school, the challenge is to promote problem-solving, team-building, cooperative learning, and technology literacy. According to Linton-Stockton Industrial Arts and Project Lead the Way teacher Brian Oliver, the Engineering Challenge was a great opportunity to provide students with an exciting and challenging learning experience, as well as promote Project Lead the Way and Technology Education programs in area schools.
Following the competition, Thomas spoke to the students about engineering at CAAA and his own experiences in the field.
"I am a product of Indiana. I went to schools in this area and graduated from Purdue with a bachelors of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering," Thomas said. He explained to the students how his engineering experiences started on the family farm when he was young and continued through school to working at CAAA. He also emphasized the importance of teamwork between all the different engineers working at the ammunition activity. Finally, he encouraged them to always strive to be the best and improve Indiana.
"I would like to encourage you all today to do two things. First is to keep striving to get the best education possible. Keep pushing your mind to think of problem solving in whole new ways. It will allow you to continue to grow and succeed," he said. "The second point I would like to encourage is for all the bright minds in the room to stay in Indiana and continue to help it become great. Whether it would be working for the military at Crane or in somewhere in the civilian sector, let us keep improving our home state and our nation."
Established Oct. 1977, CAAA maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure in order to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. The Army activity is a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command and is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.