ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval Academy hosted 100 middle and high school students for a week-long summer program beginning June 25. The program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
According to Davede Alexander, Naval Academy admissions director of strategic outreach, the summer STEM program encourages 7th-10th graders to pursue an education in engineering and technology. The STEM program also motivates students to stay engaged in engineering throughout their lives.
As the demand for college graduates with STEM degrees grows every year, the program is a potential tool to increase the number of pre-college students interested in those critical fields.
"[Engineering] is one of those things that we see as strategically important for the admissions office and the Navy," said Alexander. "[That is why we] specifically focused on science, technology, engineering, and math."
Alexander and his admissions team visited middle schools and high schools, both private and public, as well as community-based organizations from across the nation, in an effort to recruit students for the summer STEM program.
"[We] want to inspire them early to draw them into a thought process of getting into college," said Alexander.
According to Alexander, STEM is a popular topic throughout the country and almost all of the schools and organizations they approached wanted to participate.
"What's remarkable about this program is that we do not market first the Navy or the Naval Academy, we market first the idea of [students] becoming engineers," said Alexander. "With the Academy being a perfect backdrop as far as our engineering programs are concerned, our world-class facilities, and renowned professors, it makes for a perfect situation were a kid comes in to learn about engineering, but comes out with a love for the Naval Academy."
Throughout the program, students experience numerous facets of engineering including biometrics, robotics, cryptography, and code-breaking.
"The best part of the STEM program is being able to interact with people that have the same interests as me," said Debrah Olalege, a 15-year-old from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, in Tulsa, Okla.
Carlos Rubio Carnegie, also from Tulsa, said he would recommend STEM to his friends back at home because it gave him an opportunity to learn things he wouldn't have in Oklahoma.
"We are looking to enrich their education, inspire them to become engineers, and to develop a love for the Naval Academy," said Alexander.
This is the first year the academy offered the summer STEM program, but according to Alexander, plans are already underway to bring the program back next summer and expand it to allow more students to attend.
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