We’re all about partnerships. Over the past 6 years we have developed and operated programs, competitions, camps, and curriculum that have only been possible through the aid of partnerships in our local community. Our efforts to enhance and expand STEM in Northern Virginia have resulted in lasting collaborations with industry, government and school divisions.
That’s the bird’s eye view, at least. We’re also about inspiring and equipping students on an individual basis, and so are our partners. That’s why we place such a strong emphasis on STEM camps, which are one of the most effective gateways for students in STEM.
Last month, at West Potomac High School, NOVA SySTEMic Solutions had the privilege to recognize AT&T, FCPS and Ft. Belvoir for their contributions in enhancing STEM camp opportunities for underrepresented students from Mt. Vernon High School. Representatives from each organization were on hand to show support and offer their insights and advice to students who are prospective members of the future STEM workforce.
The focus of the guest speakers was on the cyber security needs for our region, highlighting the vital need for programming and cyber personnel in the workforce and for national defense. AT&T led the way with a $10,000 contribution to enable hands-on robotics (with a programming focus) and cyber security camps for 9th through 12th graders from July 18-29.
LaTara Harris, Regional Director of External & Legislative Affairs for AT&T, addressed camp students with encouragement about their future: “Leverage the gifts that you have and consider a career in STEM. It’s an absolute priority for our company. We’ve invested over 350 million dollars in ensuring that more students are exposed to the STEM fields. The jobs in cyber security are beyond vast by the time you get out.”
On the government side, Lt. Colonel Christopher Tomlinson from nearby Ft. Belvoir illustrated the numerous cyber security opportunities available in the military and why it’s important: “Cyber is becoming its own domain, its own environment. We’re going to take a whole host of individuals and turn them into cyber professionals operating in that domain, going after threats to networks and information. We’re going to do that in collaboration with educators and industry. That creates power and synergy and you guys are the focus for that.”
The cyber security camp specifically provided students with hands-on experience in networking and computer security, cyber ethics and defense strategies through hands-on activities. Through the visit of these accomplished professionals students had a great introduction to career opportunities through a different type of networking by gaining contacts for possible future employment and internships. After the presentation all the guest speakers stayed to speak with students one on one.
If a career is not yet on the radar for these young minds, NOVA provides a bridge to the professional world. NOVA has a strong cyber security presence, and SySTEMic Solutions acting director Chad Knights was ebullient about what that means for students considering a future in STEM: “NOVA is a leader in cybersecurity education. We offer an A.A.S. in cybersecurity that will ensure you receive training in the hard skills needed to become employable in the field. Even if you are planning to pursue a Bachelor’s degree NOVA is a great place to start. NOVA’s A.A.S. in cybersecurity transfers in full to five institutions including George Washington, Marymount and George Mason. As you plan for your future NOVA is an outstanding local resource available to you. We are dedicated to your success and are here to help you achieve your dreams.”