PHOENIX--Two active-duty Soldiers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math event held Sept. 25 at the Phoenix Convention Center by Ten80 Education, a national program aimed at cultivating STEM skills in youth.
Capt. Adam Z. McGinnis, the deputy area engineer for the Arizona-Nevada Area Office, and 1st Lt. Luke Ritz, a project engineer at the District’s Fort Huachuca Resident Office, participated in the event. It was one of 10 expositions Ten80 held across the country this year where students actively engage in workshops, demonstrations and a one-day points race for pride and prizes. Both students and teachers could evaluate the National STEM League curriculum, collaborative network and optional competition league.
McGinnis was part of a three-member panel, which included Tom Patsis – a member of the team which builds Top Fuel dragsters for the U.S. Army NHRA Racing team – and Teri Stripling – the president and CEO for Ten80, speaking with more than 400 students from more than a dozen Phoenix area schools about opportunities in STEM-related fields. McGinnis related his experiences in the Army. Students asked him and the other panelists questions about their work in STEM.
“[STEM] is important because the Army is much more technologically developed than it’s ever been,” McGinnis said in response to a student’s question. “Soldiers need to be tech savvy.”
Students earned team points for their participation in several workshops throughout the day. The workshops included designing the mechanical, electrical and aerodynamic features of a remote-controlled car and a robot rover. Another workshop introduced students to the binary language of computers. In another workshop, students had the opportunity to design a rover or racer on paper and come up with a pitch to “sell” their idea to the Ten80 team. Students also had the opportunity to earn points by answering trivia questions during several information sessions.
Stripling said she appreciates the partnerships the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers are providing to Ten80 and the opportunities the collaboration provides to the students. She told the students that workshops like the one held in Phoenix can open their eyes to possibilities they might not have seen before.
“We want to give you the opportunity to do what you want to do with your life” she said to the assembled high schoolers. “We want to let you know STEM is a path for you.”