CCDC Chemical Biological Center’s Director of Engineering Suzanne Milchling watches Jade Tyson score points during a STEM video game competition.

CCDC Chemical Biological Center’s Director of Engineering Suzanne Milchling watches Jade Tyson score points during a STEM video game competition.

In the Community: Center Engineering Director Judges Local STEM Youth Carnival

In the Community: Center Engineering Director Judges Local STEM Youth Carnival

By Gay Pinder

On a November Saturday morning when most kids are asleep, playing sports or streaming their favorite shows, dozens of middle schoolers turned out for the inaugural Right Stuff STEM Carnival held at the Edgewood Boys and Girls Club.

“The purpose of this carnival is to provide middle and high school students with an opportunity to learn about STEM careers, interact with senior leaders from Maryland state and county government as well as private industry and Department of Defense senior leaders in a fun and engaging environment,” said Sharon Jacobs, event coordinator and founder of New Service Training Employment Program, a non-profit youth workforce training organization and sponsor of the event along with Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The event included STEM-related activities like how to build a functioning electrical engineering device, an exhibit of STEM careers and a video game competition based on biology, chemistry and mathematics concepts.

Five teams from Cecil County and Harford County Boys and Girls Clubs competed in the video game face off. U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Chemical Biological Center’s Director of Engineering Suzanne Milchling presided as judge for the Aberdeen team were she noted their scores for each segment of the game and reported them to the game official.

Coming out on a Saturday morning was no sacrifice for Milchling.

“I really like to promote STEM. I recognize that we need the next generation workforce. We need to start working on that especially to improve the demographics,” she said. “There are not that many females. We are doing a lot better than we started. Being a female role model really helps and it’s something I like to do.”

Other judges included Terry Martin, executive officer for the Engineering Directorate, CCDC Chemical Biological Center; Harford County Councilman Andre Johnson; Steve Overbay, Harford County Office of Economic Development; Frank Kellner, Harford Mutual Insurance Company and Steven Alexander, business development, Huntington Ingalls Industries.

Video games highlighted the carnival with several stations offering virtual STEM experiences including flight simulation.

“The number of video games that we have that are STEM-related technologies that the youth can play with provides them the opportunity to kind of learn by accident,” Jacobs said. “It is the ‘gotcha’ part of what Patriot Technology Training Center has set up to help kids learn about science. We’re trying to get students here in Harford County to realize that STEM careers are fun careers.”

Milchling pointed out that STEM events like the Right Stuff STEM Carnival are mutually beneficial.

“It really helps the next generation workforce get to know who we are and what we do at the Chemical Biological Center,” she said. “Kids are more likely to work near where they live and where they grew up, where they are close to family, so it will help with workforce retention.

Judges were randomly assigned to competition teams. Charles Frederick, Gabriel Johnson and Jade Tyson made up the winning Aberdeen team judged by Milchling.

CCDC Chemical Biological Center’s Director of Engineering Suzanne Milchling watches Jade Tyson score points during a STEM video game competition.