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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Michael Baker International Pilot Program Opens Doors to STEM Workforce for Youth in 15 Communities

Alexandria, VA – The National Guard Youth Foundation (NGYF) and Michael Baker International, a global leader in engineering, consulting, planning, technical and professional services, are pleased to announce the results of a successful pilot program that engaged participants of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Data from the pilot program – executed at 15 ChalleNGe programs across the country – show the course significantly increased awareness of and interest in STEM careers, particularly among those underrepresented in STEM – minorities and girls.

“Programs like this are often the spark that leads young men and women to discover their passion for science and can put them on the path to promising STEM careers,” said Kurt Bergman, CEO of Michael Baker International. “It’s important to bring STEM education to as many students as possible and, as a company with an employee population heavily focused on STEM, we are honored to support the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program.”

In its first phase, the Radius-STEM Readiness course, developed by leading education technology company EverFi, has engaged more than 600 ChalleNGe cadets in over 3,000 hours of learning in areas such as HTML coding, unit conversion, probability, linear equations, functions and cryptography. The web-based course uses online gaming and simulations to teach technology and coding skills, ignite interest in STEM, and expose students to STEM careers that they might never have dreamed were within their reach.

Of the participants, 56 percent represented ethnic minorities, while 24 percent were female. More than half of the participants reported that they were not aware of STEM careers or were not encouraged in STEM by their community prior to participating in the program. According to a post-program survey, 52 percent of participating minorities and 54 percent of participating females reported they would like to have a job in STEM as a result of the program, with civil engineering being reported as one of the top five career paths they’d like to take.

“We are grateful to have significant support from Michael Baker International, which has enabled us to provide EverFi’s Radius-STEM Readiness course to ChalleNGe cadets and expose them – many of whom would not have the opportunity otherwise – to career opportunities in the STEM field,” said Allyson Solomon, president of NGYF.

The STEM program’s 15 pilot sites included:

  • Alaska Military Youth Academy in Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska;
  • Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy in Grays Knob, Kentucky;
  • Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy in Ft. Knox, Kentucky;
  • Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Laurel, Maryland;
  • Ft. Gordon Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Ft. Gordon, Georgia;
  • Hawaii Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Hilo, Hawaii;
  • Camp Beauregard Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Pineville, Louisiana;
  • Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in Gunpowder, Maryland;
  • Montana Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Dillon, Montana;
  • Puerto Rico ChalleNGe Academy in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico;
  • Commonwealth ChalleNGe Academy in Virginia Beach, Virginia;
  • Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton, Washington;
  • Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy in Kingwood, West Virginia;
  • Texas ChalleNGe Academy in Sheffield, Texas; and
  • South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Eastover, South Carolina.

Currently, nearly 600 additional cadets are taking the STEM course this fall. NGYF plans to expand the STEM curriculum to all 36 ChalleNGe programs across the country.

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