There is a critical need for skilled workers in the Fort Meade region in the areas of defense, homeland security and technology as a result of growth from BRAC and cyber-security initiatives. However, there is a real concern that current Maryland students are not interested in these fields, nor are they aware of the job opportunities in their own backyard.
Addressing these concerns has become a priority for the Fort Meade Alliance. Led by Past Education and Workforce Development Chair Penny Cantwell, the FMA spearheaded two major student programs to get the region’s youth on the right path and businesses involved in the education process.
In 2008, the FMA created Tech Mania, a day-long event created to bolster high school students’ interest in STEM-based careers by showcasing the technology that is being designed, created and built right in their own backyard.
Since Tech Mania’s inception, more than 1,500 students from several central Maryland counties have received hands-on exposure and career opportunities from several prominent businesses, federal agencies and colleges in the region. The Tech Mania events have given students the opportunity to experience exciting and innovative technology being utilized to solve complex problems.
STEM Family Night
Held at Arundel Mills, STEM Family Night has inspired more than 1,800 parents and students from elementary through high school by showcasing cutting edge, hands-on technology demonstrations designed to bolster students’ interest in STEM-related careers. From facial recognition apps and wireless networks, Doppler effect instrumentation to radar guns and gall bladder surgery simulations to robotics, parents and students are able to scratch the surface to what STEM-related careers offer.
Because parents play a significant role in their children’s interest in STEM, STEM Family Night also offered students and parents a chance to talk to representatives from Anne Arundel and Howard County Public School Systems about their STEM-focused programs and curriculum.