Northrop Grumman supports high school STEM Academy for fifth straight year

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Working with professional engineers and UCCS faculty, 80 high school students from the Pikes Peak region participated in a no cost, hands-on week of focused activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics July 16-20. The week-long STEM Academy targets incoming high school students interested in exploring STEM topics and careers and is sponsored by Northrop Grumman. The event features tracks in cybersecurity, robotics, website design, drones and computer-aided design. The camp expanded to accommodate up to 80 students this year.

“The STEM Academy would not be possible without the strong partnership between UCCS and Northrop Grumman,” said Chris Nelson, assistant dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science. “We both share the vision of inspiring students from all school districts in the Pikes Peak region to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers. This effort focuses on learning and applying engineering concepts, teamwork, and problem solving, all in an environment that is fun and exciting. We want the participants to depart the academy hungry for more.”

Volunteers from Northrop Grumman participate as instructors, role models, speakers and panel members. Students are encouraged to ask questions, learn about STEM careers and engage with working professionals.

“All of the Northrop Grumman engineers that help support this Academy get a real kick out of working with the students for the week,” said Joe Hanson, senior systems engineer, Northrop Grumman. “Seeing their enthusiasm and the different ways they tackle the problems presented to them is a very real refresher for all of us. It’s a real treat to be able to see and work with these future engineers.”

Each track featured four days of hands-on learning and a competition day on Friday to demonstrate knowledge gained. Students work in design teams to simulate real-world career experiences.

“Northrop Grumman strongly believes in the value of supporting our youth and encouraging them to explore STEM fields, especially girls and underrepresented minorities, to help build a diverse pipeline,” Hanson said. “We provide the STEM Academy at no cost to the attendees so they can have the experience without that barrier.”

Website design was a new track this year, allowing students to design and create custom websites using backend tools and create a production website for a client. In the drones and CAD track, engineering design teams will build and fly custom drones and use CAD software to design and create 3D-printed payloads. Robotics works from the ground up, designing, building, constructing and programming robotics. Cybersecurity students compete in a CyberPatriot competition at the end of the week, finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities in a simulated network system.

–by Sue McClernan, College of Engineering and Applied Science

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