UPPER MARLBORO, Md., July 26, 2013 – A senior Defense Department official praised some 3,000 elementary and high school students attending a science, technology, engineering and mathematics career exhibition here today for their interest in pursuing STEM careers.
Clarence A. Johnson, DOD’s director of diversity management and equal opportunity, spoke about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers at the Patriots Technical Training Center and YMCA “Thingamajig Convention,” where groups set up a variety of exhibits for students interested in STEM studies, particularly for a variety of minority groups, officials said.
“I am so proud to be part of this magnificent event — some 3,000 of our young folks getting ideas on career opportunities, how they can improve themselves, their families [and] this nation,” Johnson told the audience. “You are so blessed to have parents supporting you.”
Numbers of students pursuing STEM careers have declined in the United States, Pentagon officials have said, noting that the government and industry need those numbers to rise again so the nation can confront future security challenges.
“We at the Department of Defense support events like this because we want to make sure that young folks, in particular, know that federal service … is, indeed, a very possible career choice for you,” Johnson said.
The Defense Department has a great many jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — including fields from astronomy to nuclear science, architecture to mechanical engineering — Johnson told the students, and he encouraged them to consider working for the department.
“All of you know about the military services — the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard,” he said. “Those are very valuable opportunities to serve the nation, and [there are] STEM careers in our services.
“[But] you might not also know that in DOD we have [STEM] occupations for civil servants,” he continued. “These are [jobs] where you do not wear military uniforms, but are in occupations that support our men and women in uniform. So you not only have the opportunity [to serve] the military services, you also have career opportunities where you can pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and math in our civilian workforce.”
Johnson emphasized the need to stay in school and work hard in a chosen STEM field.
“As you grow and maintain your [advancements in STEM careers], we want you to continue doing what you’re doing: take the tough courses, do well in school, listen to your parents, and think about public service as a career choice.”