APG Holds Biennial STEM Expo

By Tracie R. Dean
ARL Public Affairs

APG officials held their 2016 Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics Expo Sept. 28.

More than 300 ninth-grade students from Cecil, Harford and Baltimore County public schools, the Thurgood Marshal College Fund, Vivian Burey Marshall Academy and the Family League of Baltimore participated in rotating interactive STEM-based activities led by U.S. Army scientists and engineers.

The expo was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the U.S Army Research Development and Engineering Command, the U.S Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Software Engineering Center, Logistics and Readiness Center, the U.S. Army Executive Command Offices, the Aberdeen Test Center and the APG Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives team.

The expo showcased cutting-edge Army technologies that provide support to the Soldier. Organizers designed the event to provide students with a combination of engaging demonstrations, hands-on activities and STEM presentations. The overarching goal was to enhance student interest in STEM-focused fields and provide exposure to advanced technologies and the various career opportunities available.

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

Students rotating through the APG STEM Education and Outreach Campus learned about brain-computer interfaces, robotic system teleoperations, network routing and additive manufacturing.

Larry R. Holmes of ARL’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate’s Materials Manufacturing Technology Branch, led the additive manufacturing workshop where students were introduced to various types of 3-D printing applications and materials. Holmes discussed the importance of keeping students engaged by showing them the capabilities of 3-D technology.

“It’s not all about just making toys;” Holmes said. “I wanted to show the students some areas where the Army is making some real advancements in additive manufacturing and where the globe is making some real advancements in manufacturing medical supplies, surrogate human forms, large structures and automobiles all using 3-D printing technology.”

Nicholas Klastava, a software engineer at the CECOM Software Engineer Center, led the Command Post of the Future demo that demonstrated a real-time collaborative system of what a commander would see when he’s being briefed on an upcoming battle plan. The demo showed actual points on a video monitor of where units were located as well as where enemies could be located on the battlefield.

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

“This is a great demo to show the tools the Army uses,” Klastava said. “Kids play a lot of video games and this demo can show them that what we are using in the field is very similar and to show them what technology can do in regards to planning and preparation.”

At the Aberdeen Test and Evaluation Facility, students learned about protective gear and participated in multiple demonstrations to include an interactive body armor demonstration, a high speed interactive video demonstration, a vehicle inspection and course monitoring demonstration, a nondestructive test interactive demonstration and a whack-a-dummy demonstration. Researchers showed students how an instrumented anthropomorphic dummy can provide an understanding of what Soldiers endure in battle.

Students at the Chemical Demilitarization Training Facility on the Edgewood Area of APG participated in several hands-on and STEM activities such as reverse engineering, light spectroscopy, detecting the threat, filtration science, super polymer absorbents, bridge building and a forensic science lab.

Matt Kiefert, ARL K-12 outreach coordinator, discussed the importance of targeting ninth-grade students and how the thrill of discovery can ignite their confidence and open the doors of academic opportunity.

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

“When students have an opportunity to get out of the classroom and get hands-on STEM experiences, it opens their minds and exposes them to the technologies we have,” Kiefert said. “It drives them to possibly want to become future scientists or engineers and possibly work for ARL one day. If we are able to engage and inspire at least one of the hundreds of student that have come through here today, that is considered a success.”

The APG STEM Expo is a biennial event. The next expo is scheduled for 2018.

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

Students participate in the 2016 Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Expo held Sept. 28 at the installation. (Photo Credit: Jhi Scott, ARL Public Affairs)

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