NORCO, Calif. —
Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona’s outreach efforts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) hit a record number of students, parents and teachers in 2018 – a strategic effort to promote STEM while providing a hiring opportunity focused on talented science and engineers to keep pace with growing demand for its mission.
By targeting in local education and career fairs throughout the year, on-site summer internships with high school and college students and a capstone annual Open House and STEM Career Fair on Nov. 3, the command extended its education outreach to more than 10,000 people.
“Our goal this year was to educate more students, educators and community members about our mission and inspire the next generation of Navy scientists and engineers to sustain and strengthen our technical capabilities for the nation and the Navy,” said Capt. Rick Braunbeck, NSWC Corona commanding officer. “The demand for STEM professional continues to grow as the need for our Navy grows wherever we are: at sea, on land, in space and increasingly in cyberspace.”
More than 1,500 people attended Saturday’s free Open House and STEM Career Fair in Norco – the most ever in the annual event that started in 2016, 40 percent more than last year. Families, students, job seekers, science enthusiasts and military veterans of all ages were eager to discover the fun of science and engineering. Event goers plied their hands at the exhibits featuring thermal imaging, a weapons augmented reality scoring system, cyber security challenges, a Navy dive tank and a geocaching treasure hunt using a GPS-based system the warfare center designed to monitor training range safety. Hundreds of attendees also got to tour the state-of-the-art Measurement Science and Technology Lab normally off limits to the general public.
In addition to the Navy exhibits, community exhibitors and educational partners – such as University of California, Riverside, California Baptist University, Cal Poly Pomona and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum Ocean Experience – also brought hands-on STEM activities to wow attendees.
Alexander Butterly, an elementary school student, joined in the experience and tried on a wing suit just like the kind national champions use when freefalling. The air blown into the suit gave him the feeling of flying. “It feels like you’re experiencing everything for yourself,” he said. “It feels like you’re actually there.”
A student at Ray Wiltsey Middle School in Ontario, Diane Perez, enjoyed tracking her classmates on the GPS tracker and giving directions as they walked around the exhibits. “It’s the funnest thing we’ve done so far,” she said. “The best thing about being here is being able to transfer back and forth between the things we like to do.”
Demand for high-end STEM activities continues to increase each year, the conceptual originator of the Open House said. “We’ve been in this community showcasing exciting Navy science and technology for decades,” NSWC Corona’s Public Affairs Director Troy Clarke said. “We’re trying to inspire and spark the imagination of these young minds early in their academic careers so they can take the right steps to be prepared for the STEM degrees in college.” Clarke said his command’s strategy starts in elementary school, expands into high school and college with internships and culminates with hiring fairs at the near-end of baccalaureate degree.
NSWC Corona took many of its STEM displays and interactive exhibits to two local signature events earlier in the Fall: the 14th Annual Riverside College and Career Fair in September that attracted some 7,000 high school students and their parents to explore STEM career paths and college options; and the 19th Annual Science and Technology Education Partnership Conference – STEPCon – a STEM conference for 5,500 4th - 8th grade students and educators in Riverside. NSWC Corona is founding exhibitor at STEPCon, which has continued to grow in attendance every year. Organizers said reservations for the free event reached capacity in seven minutes this year, faster than ever.
This past summer, NSWC Corona employed 65 interns from local colleges and universities and others from throughout the country, including Penn State, UCLA, UC San Diego, San Diego State and more.
If the Navy focused its Thermal Inspiration camera on one thing, it may have detected what seemed to be the hottest feature of the event for older participants – jobs.
The STEM career fair attracted hundreds of job seekers and students in search of internships and scholarships and was a hot spot of activity, literally and figuratively, as the November day approached 90 degrees. A special hiring authority enables the command to hire applicants on the spot, and it received nearly 200 resumes from hopefuls at the fair, some of whom received on-the-spot job offers. “Having the direct hire authority allows us to reach out to qualified applicants without having to go through the long and arduous application process,” said Donnel Okamoto, NSWC Corona human resources policy specialist.
Others came to learn about the scholarship and internship opportunities for students, including Malane Lieng, an electrical engineering student at Cal Baptist University and a Marine Corps veteran, who was interested in learning more about the opportunities for veterans and the Pathways program, a paid internship experience. “I did speak to one interviewer and saw how the interview process goes. It was fruitful because as a student we don’t get a lot of interviewing experience outside of school,” he said.
About Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona:
This year marks the Navy's 77th year in the Inland Empire when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Corona Naval Hospital at the former luxurious Norconian Hotel and Resort after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Decades later, Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona remains at the center of the original property, employing more than 3,300 scientists, engineers, contractors and support staff. The base contributes more than $330 million to the local economy each year. With four federal laboratories and assessment centers, three of which are in Norco – the Joint Warfare Assessment Lab, Measurement Science and Technology Lab and the Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center – Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona is the Navy's premier independent analysis and assessment agent, enabling warfighters to train, fight and win.