News: High school students participate in Team SPAWAR IT Shadow Day
High school students got a first-hand look at how science and information technologies are helping create information dominance for America's Navy during Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Information Technology Shadow Day events.
San Diego-area students toured SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific and met with Team SPAWAR leaders Thursday. Charleston-area students will get a chance to meet with the SSC Atlantic staff Monday.
IT Shadow Day is a Department of Defense initiative designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science in math.
"We need your generation to keep our Navy and nation competitive in IT and other technologies," said Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, commander of SPAWAR, during his opening remarks. "Our goal is to show you some of the exciting projects our scientists and engineers are working on to support our Navy and to inspire your pursuit of technical education and excellence."
During the San Diego shadow day, students visited the Navy data center, which has been praised for its efforts to adopt industry best practices that reduced costs to the Navy. They also toured the model range where scientists and engineers make and use models of Navy vessels to understand and improve their communications capabilities.
Two popular stops on any Team SPAWAR tour always are the robot and sea water antenna demonstrations. Students had the chance to talk with the innovative people who created these advanced technologies.
"I really liked the sea water antenna," said Julia Roche, 17, a junior at High Tech High Point Loma. "It shows what engineers can do here, and it could turn into something revolutionary."
Students participating in the SSC Atlantic event Monday will visit the Real World Lab to see how a computer simulation tool based on gaming technologies offers a virtual world training and visualization model and the Integrated Products Lab, which showcases engineering and network products such as the Multi-Touch, Multi-User display.
Students will also visit an Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3) lab where tests are performed on radio frequency (RF) communications; the Common Submarine Radio Room integration area, where SSC Atlantic employees build and test radio rooms for U.S. Navy submarines; and the Air Traffic Control building, where integration and testing of air traffic control software is performed.
According to SSC Atlantic Commanding Officer Capt. Bruce Urbon, the IT Shadow Day is a win-win for the students and SSC Atlantic.
"Students get exposed to a number of IT career field opportunities," he said. "For us, it's an opportunity to plant seeds of interest as we seek to build tomorrow's workforce."
The number of American students pursuing careers in math and science has steadily declined in recent years. Those who do go into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career fields are in high demand from industry, academia and government.
Events like the IT shadow day expose students to government job opportunities they can pursue after college. Jobs with Team SPAWAR offer an opportunity to serve the country in a unique way.
While the active duty leaders within Team SPAWAR answered the call to serve by donning a uniform and defending the country as Sailors, it is not the only way.
SSC Pacific Commanding Officer Capt. Joe Beel explained how America's Navy is a global force for good and how the same cutting-edge, game-changing technologies that help warfighter win battles can also be applied during humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
Beel also talked about robots and unmanned systems being developed by SPAWAR engineers and how when war fighters bring their robots back for repairs, they insist on getting back the same one because that robot saved their lives.
"I think that's the greatest compliment about the work we do when it becomes part of their life," Beel said. "That robot is like their partner or shipmate, and you don't want to be without it."
SPAWAR continues to support the Federal Chief Information Officers Council (CIO) in their student outreach efforts. This year marks the fifth time the DoD has partnered with the CIO and participated in IT shadow day.