Story by Amy Pine | Photograph by Hon Low
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to solve real-world STEM problems, submit your project to a national competition, and prepare for your future college degree and dream career.
More than 70 middle school students from across the city accepted the challenge to participate in Savannah State University’s eCYBERMISSION program, a national initiative that promotes self-discovery among young scientists and enables participants to recognize real-life applications of STEM.
Funded through a one-year, $39,800 grant from the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) through the U.S. Department of Defense, eCYBERMISSION aims to engage students in STEM training and careers and to broaden, deepen and diversify the pool of STEM talent in support of the U.S. Defense Industry Base.
Every other week, the students, who were selected from four Savannah-Chatham County Public School System middle schools, meet on the SSU campus and break into teams of four. The teams, led by teachers at their respective schools, work with faculty mentors to solve real-world problems in areas such as engineering, robotics, alternative energy, national security and safety, physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, cybersecurity and environmental science.
“The goal is to work with minority students so that we can encourage them to go toward STEM majors,” says Asad Yousuf, Ed.D., professor of electronics engineering technology, interim chair of the Department of Engineering Technology and the grant’s principal investigator (PI).
Working alongside co-PIs Mir Hayder, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering technology; Mohammad Mustafa, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering technology and interim dean of the College of Sciences and Technology; Suman Niranjan, Ph.D., associate professor of supply chain and logistics, director of the Interdisciplinary Transportation Studies program, and coordinator of the university’s Global Logistics and International Business Education and Research Center of Excellence; and Manoj Prasad, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, the mentors introduce students to concepts in their fields of expertise and give them ideas as they work to complete their projects.
In addition to working with the faculty mentors, the students engage in hands-on STEM activities and enjoy guest speakers who introduce topics and expose them to career possibilities.
Once they complete their projects in the spring, the students will submit them to the national eCYBERMISSION program competition, which takes place in Washington, D.C., in June.
“Introducing students in our community to STEM is a priority at Savannah State,” says President Cheryl Davenport Dozier, DSW. “The exposure to our faculty and our facilities, along with the problem-solving techniques learned in the eCYBERMISSION program, will serve the students well as they continue on in their secondary school careers and eventually work toward college degrees.”
This article originally appeared in Arising, 2019.
Established in 1890, Savannah State University is the oldest public historically black college or university in Georgia and the oldest institution of higher learning in the city of Savannah. The university's 3,600 students select majors from 30 undergraduate and five graduate programs in four colleges ‐ Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Business Administration, Sciences and Technology, and Education.
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