Submitted by ARL

Left to Right. Dr. Irwin Hudson (ARL), Sue King (TSA), Dr. Neal Finkelstein (ARL), Jerry Crabb (RDECOM), Christina Weber (RDECOM), Michael White (ARL Summer Intern) and Emily Stern (ARL Summer Intern) at the Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference in Orlando, Florida.

The Orlando Rosen Shingle Creek Resort hosted 8,000 middle school and high school students for the Technology Student Association (TSA) National Conference June 21-25. TSA provides leadership opportunities for students to apply Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (better known as STEM) concepts through numerous programs. Currently, 230,000 middle and high school students nationwide are members and aspire to be future engineers, scientists and technologists through the TSA.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) sponsored a competition at the TSA called the Junior Solar Sprint. Several members of the Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), Team Orlando, and Summer Interns from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) supported the event in various roles of logistics, coordinating students, and judging.

During the conference students from across the nation competed in over 20 events including: robotics, solar design, hacking, software development, game-design, TED talks, presentation skills, construction, medical technologies to name just a few. The grueling competition began as early as 7 a.m. and ran through midnight.

Dr. Irwin Hudson, a science and technology manager for ARL-Orlando said, “One of the greatest perks of working at ARL is seeing the excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of the students while supporting outreach programs like TSA. These events definitely confirm that the future of science and technology will be in great hands.”

Michael White, an ARL summer intern from Tennessee State University added, “It was inspiring to see all of the effort, hard work and dedication that each individual student put forth. I was really taken back by the level of ingenuity that each student put into their STEM project.”

Family and friends gather at the Joint Solar Sprint Competition at the Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference in Orlando, Florida.

For more than 50 years the Army has supported a wide range of educational opportunities in STEM for our youth, college and graduate students, as well as our valued teachers from around the country. The Joint Solar Sprint is just one of the many programs under the Army Education Outreach Program (AEOP) umbrella. Emily Stern, an ARL summer intern from Florida State University was also impressed with the opportunity to volunteer as a judge and said, “It was so refreshing to see young minds so interested in the math and science disciplines. The projects were innovative and the future looks so bright for these students going into STEM fields.”

Dr. Neal Finkelstein, chief engineer for the Army Research Lab, added, “It is always rewarding to work STEM events, but when you have an entire resort taken over by 8,000 middle and high school students and parents, it is really amazing. Their brilliance and presentation is quickly evident.”

Finkelstein was further impressed by a comment from a hotel security guard who stated it was the first time in their career to have so many students in one place and not have one problem. “That is a testament to these motivated students and their families. Dr. Hudson and his team of interns did an amazing job making it a safe and memorable Army week!”