Interest in Electrical Currents Sparked YIT Keynoter to Dream Big

Aerospace Engineer Mark Branch will provide the keynote address to area middle and high school students attending the Youth in Technology Summit on April 12 at the College of Southern Maryland’s La Plata Campus.

STEM Week’s Youth in Technology Summit at CSM, April 12

From a young age, Mark Branch dreamed of working for NASA. With a clear goal, he focused on the science and math courses in middle and high school that he knew he would need to realize his dream. Now an aerospace engineer, Branch wants to share his experiences and excitement for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) when he addresses area students attending the Youth in Technology Summit hosted by the College of Southern Maryland on April 12 in La Plata.

As the acting group leader for National Air and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center Electromagnetic Test Group, Branch is responsible for testing the electromagnetic environment that a spacecraft will encounter in space and at the launch pad. Cool stuff.

What may be even cooler is Branch’s alter ego as ‘DJ Scientific’ with disc jockey gigs at NFL and NBA events as well as at a nightspot in Washington, D.C.

Branch wants to show young people that they don’t have to choose between divergent interests as they plot their career course. He also wants to show students the face of someone whom they probably wouldn’t expect to work at Goddard.

“When I was in junior high and high school, I led somewhat of a double life. I was considered a nerd by a lot of folks because I generally made straight A's and B's. However, at the same time, I was considered “cool” because I deejayed parties. In saying that, I always try to make the point that you can be smart and be cool at the same time,” said Branch.

“As my parents always encouraged me to learn as much as I could, I was never afraid to show people what I had learned. As I had a great appreciation for music and deejaying, I was never afraid to display my talents. I never did either thing in a braggadocios way. I just did what I loved to do, to the very best of my ability,” Branch said. He tries to encourage young people not to be afraid to be smart, he said. “My advice to everyone—young and not-so-young—is to embrace that which you love in order to live a happy and successful life!”

The Youth in Technology Summit is a field trip experience for students from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s county schools.

“We are thrilled to have Mark speak to students about setting goals and, most importantly, having fun learning about topics that interest them. Mark’s own story of his interest in science in his teen years will resonate with students; so will hearing of how he shaped that interest into an exciting career,” said CSM ISTEM Director Rob Farinelli.

In addition to hearing from Branch, students will attend workshops that match their interests, including sessions on cyber security, the trades, aerospace engineering, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft mission systems, the art of mathematics and preparing for college success. CSM’s Physical Education (PE) Center will host a STEM career expo with demonstrations on clean fuel development, electric car design, construction trades, crashworthiness testing, naval aviation sensors, aircraft engines and 2012 tri-county science fair winners.

The Youth in Technology Summit is one of four events at CSM’s La Plata Campus during STEM Week, April 10-14. The Tri-County Job and Career Fair is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 10, Student Success Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference for educators is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 13 and the CSM Robotics Challenge, Junior Division is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 14.

STEM Week is sponsored by PNC Bank, BAE Systems, The Patuxent Partnership, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Sabre Systems, Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation, Charles County Technology Council, Wyle Aerospace Group, SMECO, Smartronix and CSC Applied Technologies, with special thanks to NAVAIR.

For information on the Youth in Technology Summit and other STEM Week events, visit www.csmd.edu/STEM.

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