SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) leaders increased awareness and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for today’s youth through video messages and online demonstrations Nov. 9-15 during Fleet Week San Diego’s Virtual Innovation Zone event.
Fleet Week San Diego is an annual event created by community and business leaders to honor and celebrate the men and women of the military through public events that entertain and alliances that support and thank these heroes. This year’s Innovation Zone virtually hosted a combination of new and emerging technologies and interactive displays geared to encourage students, service members and their families to participate in STEM education programs.
NAVWAR Commander Rear Adm. Doug Small and Executive Director John Pope welcomed attendees to the virtual experience emphasizing the value of STEM events, like the Innovation Zone, in igniting excitement in STEM and developing innovative solutions that will solve the problems of the future.
“For high tech industry and government leaders, it is incumbent on us to spur interest in STEM at as early of an age as possible,” said Small. “Young people are quite literally our future, as they will bring tomorrow’s technical breakthroughs, to give us a competitive edge in this evolving era of Great Power Competition.”
Pope echoed Small’s push for STEM outreach, highlighting the critical and growing need for exceptional STEM professionals to ensure U.S. security in today’s increasingly competitive environment.
“Now more than ever, the defense of our Nation depends on the STEM talent of the future,” said Pope. “Together, industry, academia and government must work to build interest in STEM through established programs and organized events. We want to develop a STEM talent pool with minds for innovation, problem solving and technical agility to sustain our competitive edge for decades to come.”
During the event, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific facilitated online discovery by providing the opportunity for students to connect with STEM professionals through a virtual presentation and discussion around underwater remote operation vehicles (ROVs). Experts covered the fundamentals of ROVs, how design plays a role and tradeoffs during the building process. During the presentation STEM professionals answered student submitted questions. Additionally students has the ability to engage with experts through the chat feature throughout the week’s event.
“Despite COVID, we have remained connected to our San Diego STEM communities and partners by pivoting to virtual engagements,” said Yolanda Tanner, NAVWAR STEM federal action officer and NIWC Pacific internship and fellowship program manager. “For Fleet Week we wanted to connect both STEM engagement and relevance. As students, families, educators and districts adjust to online learning environments we decided to lend our expertise in helping over 100 San Diego Unified School District 10th grade students who are working on school underwater ROV projects. Additionally, by livestreaming and archiving the event, we were able to make a broader impact across communities, cities, families and schools nationwide.”
In addition to Fleet Week and in support of the next generation of STEM professionals, NAVWAR and NIWC Pacific will continue to participate in a variety of K-12 education outreach events including classroom demonstrations and presentations, local, national and international robotics competitions, community events, career fairs, science festivals, internships, mentorship opportunities, and more.