New ARL agreement to Virginia Tech, 11 STEM programs help spark student interest in STEM careers
March 07, 2011
Students at all stages of development will now benefit from a ground-breaking three-year, $17.2 million cooperative agreement to support the management and execution of a consortium of academic and nonprofit institutions that are formed to stimulate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and outreach, and highlight Defense Department career paths.
As part of the Army Educational Outreach Program for the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, ARL's Army Research Office, located in Research Triangle Park, N.C., made the award recently in coordination with the Research, Development and Engineering Command headquarters to 11 existing STEM programs, whose efforts, as part of the consortium, will be led by the Virginia Tech.
The focus will be on developing a set of core objectives outlined by the Army to increase the number of STEM graduates by expanding the involvement of students in ongoing Defense Department research, and providing STEM education opportunities for students from kindergarten through post-graduate educational levels.
"Our nation's economic security is directly tied to the quality of STEM education our young students receive," said Jeff Singleton, acting director for research and technology, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology. "As responsible stakeholders to our nation's security, the Army has long engaged in STEM education for young Americans."
Singleton added, "With technical experts from academia, industry and government, this cooperative agreement lays the foundation that ties together the crucial elements needed for a long term strategy to engage America's youth in STEM and to produce globally competitive technical talent."
According to Ashley Wade, youth science cooperative agreement manager for ARO, the new contracting strategy, the cooperative agreement, will consolidate all youth science programs under one umbrella. It will force collaboration between previously autonomous programs, and focus all program efforts on a set of core Army objectives. She said the intention is to create a pipeline that carries students through a variety of Army STEM programs, fosters a continuous interest in STEM, and supplies the next generation of students for Department of Defense-sponsored or supported college programs and eventual STEM careers.
The cooperative agreement is more specifically expected to create synergy among the Army's Educational Outreach programs, increase direct involvement and oversight in these programs, and ultimately influence and improve how these programs are marketed and evaluated.
The Army's educational outreach program is comprised of Army-sponsored research, education, competitions, internships and practical experiences designed to engage and guide students and teachers in STEM. From elementary school through graduate school, students of all proficiency levels, interests, and ethnic, economic and academic backgrounds are encouraged to participate in real world experiences involving these important disciplines.
Programs involve interactive activities and knowledgeable mentors to introduce students to these areas. Events include school visits, neighborhood activities and community science fairs. Scientist, technology experts, engineers and mathematicians, who act as mentors and guides, introduce students to various levels of research and engineering and provide advice on career opportunities and training.