More than 100 middle school students spent a week immersed in enhancing their skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) Virginia Demonstration Project (VDP) Summer Academy, which ran from June 25 to 29.
The summer camp provided the students with the opportunity to use their STEM skills towards solving problems of Navy interest. Serving as their mentors are 19 Navy scientists and engineers, and together they work on activities and projects that impact simulated naval robotic missions at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren in Virginia.
VDP STEM Dahlgren Academy director Jane Bachman shared: “This is a wonderful opportunity for a middle school student to learn about and receive hands-on experience to as many STEM careers as possible in one week… If students learn of a new STEM career interest or perhaps confirm their current STEM career interest – it affords them the opportunity to begin making plans for the courses they need to take in their high school journey.”
It is the hope of Navy officials that summer camps such as these will ignite an interest in the young people to pursue further education in engineering and technology, and perhaps build careers with the Naval Warfare Center laboratories, designing “future technologies supporting U.S. warfighters and America’s homeland defense and security.”
Speaking before the Summer Academy’s student participants, Capt. Michael Smith, Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) commander, said: “In order to do the actual engineering work – the calculations and the interesting stuff working as part of a team -you really need to be grounded in the sciences… During the week, you’ll be exposed to a bunch of different projects and we hope it will whet your appetite so that you will really want to end up being an engineer and get to do some of the cool things that we get to do here.”