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    SPAWAR hosts Shadow Day for San Diego MESA Alliance Students

    SPAWAR hosts Shadow Day for San Diego MESA Alliance Students

    Photo By Rick Naystatt | Students from the San Diego Mathematics Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA)...... read more read more



    Story by Tina Stillions 

    Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR)

    SAN DIEGO - Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) hosted a Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Shadow Day for educationally underrepresented high school and college students from the San Diego MESA Alliance Nov. 7.

    The Shadow Day event is designed to provide students from minority and lower income households with the opportunity to observe the federal work environment, shadow professionals in their respective fields and learn what programs are available to facilitate a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the government.

    SPAWAR Deputy Commander, Rod Smith spoke to the students and encouraged them to pursue STEM careers. He stressed the importance of diversity and innovation in the selection process at SPAWAR, which hires more than 500 people annually.

    “We are a diverse organization looking for a diverse set of skills,” said Smith. “It takes a lot of innovation and talent to make this real for our forces, so it’s essential we find the right people to come on board here at SPAWAR.”

    Students from high school and college campuses around San Diego participated in the Shadow Day event. They learned what education and skills are required to succeed in careers with the federal government from the vantage point of the engineers and scientist they interacted with throughout the day’s event. The students visited various departments throughout SPAWAR, touring facilities management projects at the organization’s headquarters and visiting the SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) model range, an area at the organization’s laboratory that provided students an opportunity to network with engineers and technicians working on antenna design, development, testing, modeling and simulation, and integration.

    Dr. Stephen Russell, SSC Pacific's director of science, technology and engineering, welcomed the students and provided an overview of some of his role models in the science and engineering fields. He encouraged the students to take advantage of internships in technical fields in order to open up their potential career horizons.

    Jason Keltner, the SPAWAR STEM Scholars Program coordinator and lead for the MESA Shadow Day event, agreed with Russell.

    "Internships play a very important role in both the early professional development of students and recruiting a highly-skilled scientific workforce," said Keltner, who also serves as a MESA Alliance industry advisory board member. "Students work side-by-side with experienced engineers, solving real-world problems, and are able to explore a range of interests through job rotations. In turn, leadership provides them a challenging and dynamic work environment, which blends research and engineering disciplines. That allows us to assess the strengths of the interns from both technical and teaming perspectives, and market to them the benefits of SPAWAR as their employer of choice."

    Several internship opportunities are available to assist students in transitioning to employment with the federal government, including the Office of Personnel Management Pathways Program, STEM Scholars Intern Program, Naval Acquisition Intern Program and the Science Mathematics and Research for Transformation Program.

    “There are a number of scholarship and internship programs available that provide students with financial and academic support, while exposing them to the challenging scientific work being performed at SPAWAR," said Keltner. "The support is there, but it can be very competitive. So, it’s important to find a mentor who has been successful on the path you'd like to pursue and allow them to advise you on how to best reach your goals."

    The number of American students pursuing careers in math and science has steadily declined in recent years. Those numbers are even smaller for educationally disadvantaged students pursuing advanced science degrees. Students who do go into STEM career fields are in higher demand from industry, academia and government. Events like MESA Shadow Day encourage students to stay in school and expose a diverse cross section to the various government opportunities available to pursue after graduating from college or while interning with SPAWAR.

    “It’s really important that all of us who work in STEM fields work hard to inspire our youth to stay in school and become our next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Alan Philpott, a SPAWAR MESA industry advisory board representative and one of the event’s coordinators. “Our country is at risk of not having enough scientists and engineers to maintain strong economic vitality and national defense prominence for the long term.”

    Philpott has been a MESA mentor, volunteer/speaker for MESA events, and involved with the MESA outreach effort since 2002. He said more than three million young people dropped out of high school in 2010 and that America's educational system is facing a crisis.

    “SPAWAR is certainly committed to promoting a strong interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields for our nation's young people,” said Philpott. “Through mentoring and educational outreach programs like MESA Shadow Day, we make America stronger, not just by delivering Information Dominance capability to the fleet, but by also encouraging our youth to make education a priority. I believe our country is stronger when the dreams afforded by education are within the reach and potential of all."

    The MESA program enables educationally disadvantaged students to graduate from four-year institutions with a math-based major. MESA focuses on student groups that historically have had low levels of graduating from college in their intended major, particularly STEM fields. The Alliance serves more than 2,200 students in San Diego County annually through a MESA educational "pipeline" of partner programs, such as those offered at SPAWAR.

    MESA Shadow Day at SPAWAR supports the DOD-wide initiative designed to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. As the Navy's Information Dominance Systems Command, SPAWAR participates regularly in events and programs such as MESA Shadow Day with a goal of inspiring and preparing young men and women for STEM careers with the federal government.

    For more news from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, visit



    Date Taken: 11.07.2012
    Date Posted: 11.08.2012 15:06
    Story ID: 97506
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 

    Web Views: 305
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