Monday, August 17, 2009

US Navy Seeks Workforce Pipeline of STEM-Focused Students

It was obvious to me that the United States Navy was on a mission during the 2009 National BDPA Technology Conference held in Raleigh NC earlier this month. The Navy needs to ensure that the pipeline of young people going through the public education system is trained sufficiently in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. Only a strong STEM-focused nation can work in the future Navy.

As such, it was truly wonderful to see the strong presence of the US Navy during workshops, career fair and the Awards Gala. Speaking engagements were conducted by Asst SECNAV BJ Penn, VADM Harry Harris (OPNAV N6), Mr. Terry Halvorsen (Deputy Commander, NETWARCOM), Mr. Bob Whitkop (Executive Director, NGEN), CAPT Kent Flowers (CO, NROTC Savannah State) and CDR Ben McNeal (Chief Engineer, NGEN). Each of these speakers provided a glimpse into the US Navy that was eye-opening for most BDPA attendees.

My hope is that BDPA and the Navy will continue to build on their strategic alliance. The BDPA Education & Technology Foundation (BETF) hopes to be useful in setting up this strong value-added relationship.

An immediate success story occured when a BDPA high school computer competition student, Raven Stevenson (shown in photo with BDPA Greater Columbia chapter teammates Sami Patel and Dominique Geiger) received a NROTC scholarship to study Bio-Medical Engineering at Duke University.

Other interesting ways that BETF can leverage a stronger relationship with the US Navy and BDPA's youth education programs:

  • BDPA College Students transition to Navy commissions via the Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program
  • Officer Candidate School and Naval Postgraduate School for college graduates in the information technology arena is to become Information Warfare officers to learn how to defend our nation from cyber warfare.
  • High School members could go to Naval ROTC. Raven Stevenson earned her scholarship through the Immediate Selection Program for high school seniors with a 1250 SAT and other eligibility requirements. BDPA can send letters of endorsement on applicants with an SAT below 1250. Lower SAT candidates are selected through a selection board process. Does your chapter have any students with 1250 SAT score?
  • Gaining admission into the Naval Academy is a more challenging process, but yields a significant reward. Some of the BDPA high school candidates may be offered Naval Academy Prep School which is a good deal and a direct path to an appointment. Don't be put off by the congressional appointment process. It is a process and there are a number of opportunities.
BDPA's youth education programs regularly engage with young people of Raven's stature and accomplishments. Methinks that we should be able to identify at least 10 other BDPA students from our HSCC Alumni. The opportunity should exist for many more NROTC scholarship presentations in the future. BETF plans to explore this opportunity with US Navy officials.

What is your view of the growing relationship between BDPA, BETF and the US Navy?

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