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News | Feb. 22, 2016

St. Louis' STEM efforts inspire kids with thoughts of flight

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

ST. LOUIS - Hoping to inspire the “next generation of defense leaders,” Defense Contract Management Agency Boeing St. Louis team members recently began a science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach program here.

“We take what the students are currently learning and show them how these same concepts apply in real life to support our mission in surveillance, contract management, pricing, mission support and delivery of critical products to our warfighters down-range,” said Navy Capt. Matthew McLaurin, DCMA Boeing St. Louis commander.

McLaurin’s executive officer, Navy Cmdr. James Wong, spurred the collaborative effort by “leveraging experiential learning presentations, static displays and performances of the organization’s military personnel to provide invaluable real-life anecdotes and daily work scenarios to emphasize the importance of STEM.”

Wong, whose efforts were initially inspired by his own school-aged children, is quick to point out that the outreach program is a team effort and everyone’s contributions are essential for success.

The most recent event took place during a STEM night at a local elementary school Jan. 28. With more than 100 children and their family members in attendance, the St. Louis team conducted its ever-evolving presentation. Much to the students’ amusement, this event included a few new twists.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Doug Crane, who had previously provided an overview of his flight equipment’s technological aspects while he donned a flight suit, had a teacher dress in the suit instead. Additionally, the local Army Corps of Engineers set-up a three-dimensional river model with running water highlighting the water management and water control operations to educate attendees and provide additional support.

“As part of the coordination process, the team works closely with teachers to tailor the STEM message to students’ educational needs by augmenting classroom lessons with interpersonal and relational sharing,” said Crane, a DCMA Boeing St. Louis government flight representative. “It’s an incredible opportunity to expose the students and teachers to what we do in support of the DCMA mission and relate it to what they are being taught in class.”

The team’s efforts align with broader governmental STEM initiatives. According to the Department of Education, acting U.S. Education Secretary John King recently began his “Opportunity Across America” tour to discuss how the Every Student Succeeds Act will strive to ensure every student - regardless of disability, race, zip code or family income - is prepared to succeed in school and in life.

The local DCMA program focuses on both teachers and students, as each event concludes with a ceremony were McLaurin presents educators with awards highlighting their importance and contributions to society.

“This holistic approach demonstrates respect for educators as they shape the young minds of tomorrow and the nation’s future,” explained Air Force Maj. Fred Shaw, F-15SR program integrator, who said the outreach program has generated a lot of interest with three additional events already planned in the coming months.

Additional team members include: Navy Lt. Cmdr. Longley Thomason, chief of flight operations; Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Bell, infrared search and track program integrator; Navy Lt. Shawn Marlowe, F/A-18 program integrator; Navy Chief Petty Officer Chad Cochuyt, technical publications/logs and records program manager; Navy Chief Petty Officer Donald Johnson, Government Ground Representative; Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Dowdy, Government Ground Representative; Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Nelson, F-15E test acceptance pilot; Air Force Maj. Ed Colfer, F-15E test acceptance pilot; and Air Force Maj. Damian Benigno, contracts group.