NAVSUP WSS Inspires Students to Stick with STEM

Philadelphia high school students spent time meeting representatives from local colleges, universities, and Navy activities at the Independence Seaport Museum as part of NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support’s (NAVSUP WSS) first annual Navy College Day, funded by the Navy Diversity Office.

One“There are so many opportunities the Navy can provide for anyone interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” said Rear Adm. Paul Verrastro, Commander, NAVSUP WSS, to the students during the kick-off. “The Navy has over 100 career fields for civilians and those in uniform. You can be anything from a physician to a sonar technician, from electrical engineer to a chemist – and these are just four of many exciting careers for you to choose from.”

The goal of Navy College Day is to connect students with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Navy employment and scholarship opportunities.

Saturday’s inaugural event inspired Philadelphia’s youth to choose promising careers in STEM fields by featuring hands-on activities alongside informational booths.

Among many other interactive experiences, students tested a For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge robot at the NAVSUP WSS booth, experienced the concept of reverse engineering when they got their hands scanned by a 3D laser scanner at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) booth, completed engineering challenges such as knot tying and Rube Goldberg machine-building, and participated in an underwater robotics remotely-operated vehicle competition.

“Today was all about showing these high school students all of the opportunities they have in the Navy and with STEM,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bessman, NAVSUP WSS STEM coordinator. “We in the Navy have reached out our hand to help these kids achieve their dreams.”

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Attending organizations included NAVSUP WSS, NAVSEA, DLA Troop Support, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), Temple University College of Science and Technology, Drexel University Colleges of Engineering and Computing & Informatics, and the Community College of Philadelphia.

In July, NAVSUP WSS plans to hold its next Navy STEM program event: the celebration of the grand opening of its STEM workshop, which is opening aboard Naval Support Activity Philadelphia. The workshop will be used by Philadelphia high school students and their NAVSUP WSS mentors to build competition-ready FIRST Tech Challenge robots.

In 2014, Independence Seaport Museum and NAVSUP WSS announced a new partnership to guide high school students towards STEM-related occupations through their educating acquisition, global logistics, and engineering (EAGLE) program. The new alliance came in response to the high demand for STEM graduates and the low numbers of students pursuing or receiving STEM-related degrees in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Navy College Day functions as an inspiration and awareness campaign in furtherance of the partnership’s goal.

By Sarah Glinski, NAV SUP WSS; Office of Corporate Communications