“Jobs in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] fields are the fastest-growing employment sectors, but the number of students graduating with degrees in those areas is declining,” Wynne Area Engineer Loy Hamilton said.
To increase college and career readiness and student interest in STEM, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers volunteers like Hamilton establish partnerships with schools in the surrounding area. He’s been volunteering for 20 years now.
“I have been involved with and assisted both Junior High and Elementary School GT [Gifted and Talented] classes here in Wynne, Arkansas, and was even asked to assist the Gosnell, Arkansas (near Blytheville, Arkansas) Elementary School one year,” Hamilton noted.
Recently Hamilton helped a small class of students in Wynne learn about building bridges, among other things.
“Obviously learning about bridges and how they function and are designed is related to engineering, but mathematics and physics is the basis of how bridges are designed and analyzed,” Hamilton started. “We learned for example, how Sir Isaac Newton's Third "Law" of Physics has a great deal to do with how a bridge is analyzed and designed. This law [Newton’s Third Law] is referred to the law of action and reaction and for a bridge to not move, all forces in any direction must be equal to zero (static equilibrium).”
Technology and globalization in the 21st century make volunteers like Hamilton that much more important when it comes to ensuring students develop the skills they need to succeed in the future.
“We have had students go on to become doctors, nurses, teachers, and engineers,” Hamilton explained while showing off a picture of the class. “It’s so important to support and encourage our youngsters to be involved and take interest in science, technology, and math-related studies, and have fun while doing it – just look at the smiles on the faces of the students.”
Investing in our future is something Hamilton and many others with the Corps of Engineers firmly believe in.
“When it comes to building strong and innovative solutions, long-term and thorough preparation is always key, and that includes us investing in our young people,” Hamilton added. “The STEM program is just one example of how we, at the Corps, do that.”