BLOOMFIELD, Indiana – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) has partnered with the DirectEmployers Foundation, Bloomfield Jr./Sr. High School and Indiana University’s Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration to put personnel into the classroom as part of a total immersion project designed to bring the naval installation into the school system. Representatives from each of the partner organizations met with students at the school on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to explain the new business simulation pilot program, which will immerse kids in a corporate environment while augmenting their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
A dedicated classroom at Bloomfield Jr./Sr. High School will replicate NSWC Crane’s equipment and décor, providing a realistic simulation of the base where personnel will work with teachers to help kids complete a STEM project that is similar in nature to real-world problems that Crane solves on a daily basis. “This is an opportunity for you to see what goes on in the engineering process and see the business model of what occurs at Crane,” Principal David Dean explained to the students. “Maybe it will strike a chord with you and you can come back to our area and make a very good living here.”
The business simulation project is scheduled to begin on Sept. 16. The first semester will focus on introduction to the different types of engineering career pathways at NSWC Crane and project preparation with volunteers from Crane’s staff. During the second half of the school year, students will learn to communicate and clarify client requirements based on the business specification documents.
Simone Murray, DirectEmployers Foundation, said the program will give kids the opportunity to look at different STEM-related career paths while still in high school. “In the next year, you’re going to see my face once a week, you’re going to see Crane volunteers once a week and they’re going to work side-by-side with you and help you to see what they do every day,” she promised. “I want you guys to get engaged, I want you to get excited and I want you to start networking. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to network with the employers who could potentially hire you in about six more years.”
Mathematics Education Director Dr. Dionne Cross-Francis, associate professor at Indiana University School of Education, encouraged participants to take advantage of this opportunity to work closely with people in STEM fields and to not be afraid to question them about their careers. “When it comes to academics and when it comes to your career path and things that you might want to do, ask the experts,” she advised.
NSWC Crane Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Elder explained that the Department of Defense, the Navy and NSWC Crane need military and civilian personnel with science, technology, engineering and math skills. He said he hoped that introducing youths to STEM opportunities now will help them become technical experts later. “We will show
you the work that we do and you’ll be solving real problems that we have either solved or are in the process of solving at Crane,” he told the students. “You’ll be working with some of our brightest engineers and scientists, who have volunteered their time to show you how to use the school work that you’re learning from your teachers to think critically and become problem solvers.”
The goal of NSWC Crane’s K-12 STEM Outreach Program is to facilitate the use of NSWC Crane resources to motivate, cultivate and attract the next generation of STEM talent. The program accomplishes this by providing students and teachers with NSWC Crane scientist and engineer mentors for a variety of programs. Since the inception of its STEM program, NSWC Crane and its personnel have served over 8,000 students, 100 teachers and 100 schools.