Energetics Technology Center Grants $500,000 to CSM to Help Develop Future STEM Workforce

Propellants, polymers, microelectromechanical systems for use in ordnance and surveillance systems – the next wave of American scientific development is here but without qualified technicians and research and development scientists America could be force

Propellants, polymers, microelectromechanical systems for use in ordnance and surveillance systems – the next wave of American scientific development is here but without qualified technicians and research and development scientists America could be forced to import what should be its greatest strengths – invention and ingenuity.

To develop an innovative energetics workforce program that can meet the challenges of the next technological frontier, the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) has received a five-year, $500,000 grant from the Charles County’s Energetics Technology Center (ETC).

“ETC’s partnership with CSM will increase cooperation between local schools, baccalaureate colleges, businesses and the community as we work to develop a pipeline for future science and technology employees in our region,” said CSM President Bradley Gottfried.

While recent studies, such as one published in November by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), suggest that the U.S. is not adequately preparing its students to meet the demands of the future world economy, CSM will use the ETC grant to develop the Energetics Team, a series of courses and programs that will encourage local high school seniors to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); careers that are in high demand according to local employers.

“I believe we are facing a potential security crisis in not having enough physical scientists and engineers available for jobs in defense, and in critical disciplines such as energetics,” said Robert Kavetsky, executive director of the Energetics Technology Center. “The problem is three-fold. First, our current workforce is getting older; the number of U.S. citizens pursuing graduate degrees in STEM fields is declining; and our children in general lack interest in physical science and engineering careers. Through this grant Southern Maryland can address the latter of these two problems. Through CSM, we are going to encourage students to open their eyes to careers in science and or engineering by exposing them to the exciting possibilities within those fields. In addition, we are going to specifically target and try to attract students that have a lot to offer the community but may not have traditionally pursued science and engineering careers, namely women and minorities,” he added.

The Energetics Team will be comprised of three groups, or cohorts, of students who will participate in two years of STEM courses and activities at CSM before transferring to pursue a bachelor’s degree through a STEM program at an institution of their choice.

Cohorts will be comprised of regional high school students from backgrounds traditionally under-represented in STEM fields, including women and minorities. In addition to courses and activities, students will work one-on-one with either an engineer or scientist from the Navy community or regional technology-focused company who will mentor the student. Additionally students will receive assistance in securing summer employment in a scientific business or location.

The first Energetics Team cohort will start in August 2008 with subsequent cohorts in August 2009 and 2010. Students participating in the Energetics Team may attend courses at any of CSM’s campuses and will visit two off-site locations each year. Students will receive academic advising and tutoring and an individualized financial assistance package, including a $500 scholarship for the first semester of attendance.

For information on the Energetics Team or STEM opportunities available at CSM call 301-934-7539 or 301-870-2309, Ext. 7539 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7539 for St. Mary’s County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7539 for Calvert County or rfarinelli@csmd.edu.

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