April 23, 2024

Another Success for Spark! Career Fair’s 2nd Year

(The Patuxent Partnership Facebook photo)

The Patuxent Partnership saw an “amazing” turnout for its second annual Spark! Student Career Awareness Fair on February 1.

Put together more than 900 students from the tri-county area, more than 50 school chaperones and counselors, 32 organizations, over 140 organization representatives, 30 volunteers, seven TPP staff members, and one intern and you have “a recipe for success.” “It was AN AMAZING TURN-OUT for the 2nd annual Spark Fair.”

Watch a video of the highlights of the fair here.

The event was organized by the SOMD 2030 workforce initiative spearheaded by The Patuxent Partnership and held in the SMART Building at the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland. Demonstrations included virtual reality, flight simulators, welding, robotic surgery and medical simulations, and uncrewed vehicle interactive displays.

Fair organizers said that this year “more planning, more engagement, and LOADS of support made such a difference!”

TPP offered a very, very special thank you to the companies that supported the event:

Ten NAWCAD divisions, the US Naval Test Pilot School, and NSWC Indian Head, along the College of Southern Maryland, the University of Maryland, University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland Matrix Lab, the St Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering at USMSM, MedStar Hospital and Healthcare, University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services, UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Department Economic Development teams from all three counties, the IBEW Local 26, and other partner organizations. There were interactive hands-on booths and activities led by 100+ knowledgeable personnel. Students gained firsthand insights into various career opportunities in SoMD, from STEM fields supporting the Navy to health care, economic development, criminal justice, and skilled trades.

The fair also took a lot of collaboration with schools. A special shout out was given to the school counselors and administration that supported this year’s Spark! — Calvert County Public Schools, Charles County Public Schools, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, St Mary’s Ryken High School, and Kings Christian Academy.

Jennifer Brown, SoMD Workforce Director and organizer of the SPARK! Career Fair, said, “We received such positive feedback from our inaugural fair in 2023 and worked to make improvements for all of our partners, and especially for the students. This 2nd annual event was a huge success thanks to tremendous support and collaboration from our entire community. Leadership from the schools in the tri-county recognized the value of this opportunity for students. The Navy, with industry and community partners, brought careers to life with their interactive booths and their staff eagerly answering a myriad of questions from the students. Students also spoke with local higher education partners. The College of Southern Maryland showcased the diversity of pathways for students interested in STEM, Health and Nursing, and Trades – pursuing certificates or an associate degree. The support of NAWCAD, the Strategic Education Office, NAWCAD leadership, and the entire TPP staff made it an amazing success. A small but mighty team getting the job done.

Her parting advice “If you didn’t participate this year- please contact me to get on the list for next year!”

Participating Organizations:

Air Combat Effectiveness Consulting Group (ACE Group), LLC AVIAN Calvert County Department of Economic Development Charles County Department of Economic Development Cogito Innovations College of Southern MD (Admissions, Math & Technology Dept, School of Science and Health, Center for Trades and Energy Training) Eagle Systems

IBEW Local 26 MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital / MedStar Health NAWCAD Air Systems Group

NAWCAD Atlantic Targets and Marine Operations (ATMO)

NAWCAD DAiTA – Advanced Technology Dept (ATD) – COLOR demo

NAWCAD DAiTA – Cyber Warfare Dept

NAWCAD DAiTa – Integrated Battlespace Simulations & Test (IBST) NAWCAD DAiTA- Prototyping, Instrumentation & Experimentation/ Atlantic Ranges &Targets (PIE/ART)

NAWCAD DAiTA – Warfare Effectiveness Dept


NAWCAD WOLF Naval Systems, Inc. NSWC Indian Head Platform Aerospace Precise Systems, Inc.

SoMD 2030 Workforce Development is focused on building up a STEM pipeline. SoMD 2030 connects talented high school and college students with paid apprenticeships and internships with local industry, government, and nonprofits in Southern Maryland – leading to additional education and career opportunities.

This collaborative effort is funded by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aviation Division. The Patuxent Partnership executes the initiative via its Partnership Intermediary Agreement with NAWCAD. The SoMD 2030 funding was awarded in October 2022 due to continued efforts focused on workforce development by the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance. TPP partners with St. Mary’s College of Maryland, College of Southern Maryland, University of Maryland, the St. Mary’s, Charles, and Calvert County public schools, as well as other schools, industry, and NAWCAD to help achieve SoMD 2030’s goals.

About The Patuxent Partnership

The Patuxent Partnership is a nonprofit member organization that fosters collaboration between government, industry, and academia to advance education through STEM-based initiatives; to advance technology through speaker programs, forums, and networking; to advance science and technology transfer through the exchange of ideas, information, and data related to technologies; and to increase workforce development through an array of initiatives.

To learn more about The Patuxent Partnership and its programs, visit its Leader member page.

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