By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOMSeptember 17, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 17, 2012) -- Because of Aberdeen Proving Ground's new role as the Army's hub for science and technology, officials say the installation has the opportunity to become a national leader in science, technology, engineering and math education outreach.
The thousands of scientists and engineers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, or APG, should spur innovation as the Army promotes interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said Patrick Baker, who recently assumed the newly created position of APG STEM Champion.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
"If we come together as a unified force of Team APG in STEM, we will be national leaders in the STEM community," Baker said. "As Team APG, we will be innovators in STEM the way we are innovators with technology."
Baker serves as director of the Army Research Laboratory's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate at APG. He was inducted into Senior Executive Service May 20.
Suzanne Milchling, director of program integration at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, has joined Baker as APG STEM Champion, focusing on the installation's Edgewood area.
"One of our collective goals as Team APG is to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the development of a highly skilled, future STEM workforce," she said. "To move our installation and the nation in this direction, it is critical that senior leaders like Doctor Baker and I help achieve APG's STEM goals.
"I would like to challenge everyone with a background in science and engineering to identify ways to get involved in STEM educational outreach initiatives," Milchling said. "From personal experiences, I can attest to the rewarding nature of sharing your passion for STEM professions with students and their educators."
Louie Lopez, STEM outreach program manager for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said five major installation tenant organizations are finalizing an education partnership agreement with Harford County Public Schools.
Participating APG organizations are RDECOM; U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command; U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; U.S. Army Public Health Command; and U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.
The agreement's goals are to encourage and enhance study in the STEM disciplines; link students and teachers to APG scientists and engineers to better understand the relevance of STEM subjects; and leverage regional STEM efforts in support of educational goals, according to Lopez.
Baker and Lopez said the partnership will allow APG's STEM coordinators to present a clear and unified message when interacting with students, teachers and parents.
Another initiative is to create a STEM facility on the installation, Baker said. This would allow APG to expand its activities with the students and teachers by having laboratories dedicated to STEM outreach instead of relying on facilities used for active Army research and development.
The Army should also leverage STEM as an ambassador to the local community, Baker said. These efforts will help attract high-tech workers to the Army and allow the public to understand the important work being done at APG.
"During the Cold War, APG was a mystery to the community. That has changed over the years," Baker said. "I believe APG is much more engaged with the community today, and Team APG STEM can build on that momentum. Personnel involved in STEM outreach are ambassadors for the Army. They help maintain excellent relationships with our local community."
The APG STEM community must also look beyond northeast Maryland in order to become national leaders, Baker said. APG should seek partnerships with other federal organizations.
"Outreach ultimately goes well beyond our local area," Baker said. "We'll have a center of mass here, but we want to be looking all over the country. We want people to seek us out. We're a small fish in a big pond when it comes to STEM. We need to look beyond and understand what's going on in the rest of the country."
Baker said the ultimate goal of outreach efforts should be to improve academic performance in science and math subjects, which would lead to more students who pursue a STEM career path for our country.
"I'm hopeful that if we look back 10, 15, 20 years from now, the STEM activities that we're pushing today are going to allow us to say, 'Look where we are now because of what we did 15 to 20 years ago.' That's what it's all about," Baker said.