JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) civilian and military personnel judged the 2011 Northeast Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Inc., at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 7.
The event encourages students in grades 6 through 12 with a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), to pursue higher education. STEM careers comprise a significant percentage of technical jobs in the U.S. Navy.
FRCSE Corporate Operations Officer, Cmdr. Paul Filardi, Electronics Engineer Dan Danson, Mechanical Engineer Bill Kercher and Aerospace Engineers Michael Beals and Elizabeth Nealin, were among the judges to review the Engineering, Physics and Space Science categories.
Filardi, an F/A-18 Hornet naval flight officer with 19 years of Naval service, holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in aviation systems. He said he volunteered for two reasons, to see what today's youth find interesting in scientific fields and to possibly share his knowledge of aircraft test and evaluation.
He judged a rowing exhibit that evaluated the position of an oar collar and its effect on rowing speed, presented by Kevin Coyle, a Bishop Kenny High School student who crews for Stanton Riverbank Rowing. Filardi said Coyle's exhibit was "very well organized."
"I have a renewed appreciation for our country's youth after seeing the amazing, broad spectrum of projects at the fair and talking with the students," Filardi said.
Danson, a former adjunct professor who taught electronics, math and technical writing courses at University of North Florida and other institutions, said he "enjoys the interaction with students." This is his third year judging the event.
Danson said the Obama administration in August 2010 named Florida as one of 10 winners in the second round of the "Race to the Top" school grant program which gives a competitive preference to states that commit to improving STEM education. The Sunshine State's cut is approximately $700 million.
"I would like to see our local congressional representatives lobby for more federal educational grants," he said. "I would also like to see the grant we won, equally distributed in Florida with proper allocation to Northeast Florida and not have the entire $700 million spent only in south Florida."
Danson judged senior division engineering projects during the morning session. In the afternoon, he and other judges narrowed the field from 80 to 36 of the best exhibits that will compete at the 56th State Science and Engineering Fair in Orlando, Fla., March 23-25.
In 2010, President Obama called on 200,000 federal government employees working in the fields of science and engineering to volunteer with educators to enhance STEM education.
One opportunity open to high school students is the Navy's Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP). It offers a unique opportunity for students to apprentice at Department of Defense laboratories for eight weeks during the summer. Students conduct research alongside scientists and engineers who act as mentors. There are approximately 20 Navy laboratories across the country participating in SEAP. To view information on the program, visit www.asee.org/seap.
Another program open to students entering grades 8 to 11 is the U.S. Naval Academy Summer STEM Program in Annapolis, Md. Candidates are selected for accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. There is not a tuition requirement for the week long workshop. Applications available at www.usna.edu/admissions/stem are now being accepted for the June sessions.
For more news from Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, visit www.navy.mil/local/FRSE/.