May 19, 2024

Building a Consensus Strategy for STEM Programs

The Patuxent Partnership remains central to the efforts of nurturing STEM skills and scientific acumen necessary to grow young people into productive careers that would flourish in Southern Maryland.

TPP board member JD Fassett of NAS Patuxent River’s Georgia Tech Research Institute sees GTRI as a good fit in the STEM bandwagon. Consistent with his GTRI responsibilities and his membership on The Patuxent Partnership’s board, Mr. Fassett seeks ways to network with others passionate about turning students on to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The GTRI Patuxent River Field Office, one of 15 GTRI field offices, is responsible for coordinating business development activities with the Naval Air Systems Command and GTRI.  Mr. Fassett says that GTRI’s focus at Pax River is on the future airborne collaborative environment, open architecture for the Navy, and myriad other services that will foster innovation and cost effectiveness.

GTRI is also leveraging its educational heft to create leading-edge short courses.

“Professional education is getting a lot more time and attention from us,” Mr. Fassett says. “In GTRI’s FY16 year, we provided 28 professional courses at Pax River three or four times a month. These classes ran the gamut – lots of cyber, fundamentals of radar, electronic warfare, those types of classes.  There’s lots of interest in cyber, to the point that I think we’ll teach as many courses in cyber as our total number of classes last year, pending budgeting.”

The educational thrust is mirrored in GTRI’s robust STEM program, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with features Mr. Fassett is eager to import to Southern Maryland, such as bringing short-course instructors from Georgia who teach GTRI’s Pax River courses into local classrooms to meet with students.

Long-range planning and thinking are essential to making STEM outreach efforts work, he says.

“It would be great if we could look five or 10 years out to assess the business environment in Southern Maryland.  What will NAVAIR be needing? A lot of the Navy aviation fleet is approaching the end-of-production timeline. A lot of job skills will be needed to keep those aircraft flying and relevant to whatever the future environment will look like. We need professionals in logistics and finance, too. So maybe we can start STEM programs in those kinds of areas, and of course, there are opportunities for organizations with that expertise to contribute to STEM programs, too.”

For Mr. Fassett, the ideal STEM model has two main drivers: supporting mission-critical needs and building a work force whose members are productive and fulfilled by their work.

“I spend a lot of time talking about NAVAIR and supporting contractors for NAVAIR, but we also need to look at what else is going on in Southern Maryland,” he says. “Take energy distribution, such as Cove Point. What are their requirements? What about skills for tourism, agriculture, civil aviation, non-NAVAIR industries that can benefit the community?”

His bottom line: “What skills can keep kids highly motivated and interested in STEM careers?”

About The Patuxent Partnership

TPP fosters collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and expertise across a diverse network that includes government, industry, and academia. TPP also supports STEM education and workforce development within the local community including hosting programs of interest to NAVAIR, NAWCAD, and the broader DoD community.  

To learn more about The Patuxent Partnerships and its programs, visit their Leader Page.  

Leave A Comment