“We don’t want to just increase the number of American students in STEM. We want to make sure everybody is involved. We get the most out of all our nation’s talent -- and that means reaching out to boys and girls, men and women of all races and all backgrounds. Science is for all of us.” –President Barack Obama
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has a workforce of approximately 37,000 soldiers and civilians, making it one of the world’s most robust science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) based public organizations. Led by President Obama, who has articulated a clear priority for STEM education, the Corps has embraced a vigorous STEM volunteer program over the last decade, with a focus on minority-serving institutions.
On a rainy morning in June, the Baltimore District further committed to doing their part by signing an education partnership agreement with Morgan State University (MSU), which is one of the top five institutions graduating the highest number of black engineers nationwide, and the largest producer of black engineers in the State of Maryland.
Lt. Col. Michael Ruppert, deputy commander, Corps, Baltimore District, and Dr. David Wilson, president, MSU, participated in a ceremonial signing of this agreement during the 4th annual Patuxent Environment and Aquatic Research Laboratory (PEARL) Open House in St. Leonard, Maryland, June 17, 2016.
Located near the Patuxent River, this state-of-the-art facility was founded in 1967 in Benedict, Maryland. In 1994, it relocated to its current location in St. Leonard, and in 2004, it officially became a part of MSU.
PEARL was designed to increase the understanding of coastal ecosystems in order to allow for their proper management and protection. The vast majority of research undertaken at PEARL is focused on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, mirroring many of the Baltimore District’s environmental restoration efforts.
“We couldn’t be more honored to partner with such a prestigious university,” said Ruppert. “The Corps recognizes the critical role that STEM plays in enabling our country to remain competitive in today’s global environment. STEM is also a matter of national security. We need innovative, competent minds from diverse background to help progress our country’s defense capabilities. We have no doubt that MSU has the ability to fill that gap.”
This is not the first time the Corps and MSU have partnered on STEM initiatives. Corps engineers participated in MSU’s annual STEM Expo in 2014 and 2015, which is open to local children of all ages. Additionally, MSU’s Civil Engineering Honor Society hosted a 2014 panel discussion with four Baltimore District engineers.
In 2015, MSU engineering students Jevon Johnson and Brandon McGowan participated in summer internships with the Baltimore District as part of Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering. AMIE is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to expand corporate, government, and academic alliances to implement and support programs to attract, educate, graduate, and place underrepresented minority students in engineering careers.
The newly-signed education partnering agreement between the Corps and MSU will include cooperative research programs; a commitment from the Corps to present in select STEM classes; mentorship and career or academic advice; and the development of a program where MSU students can obtain academic credit for work on Corps projects.