Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander Vice Adm. Dean Peters knows his way around science and technology. VADM Peters, who majored in physics at the US Naval Academy, opened the Maryland Regional Competition of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on March 30, 2019.
“What I see here really blows away what I’ve ever seen,” VADM Peters said to students, guests, and judges in the audience.
The student research projects focused on topics like cancer detection and treatment, denitrification of engineered infiltration systems, myoelectric-controlled 3-D printed prosthetic arms, and pan-Ebola virus neutralization – just to name a few.
In his opening remarks, VADM Peters energetically expressed the importance of bringing STEM skills to the Department of Defense and in particular, to the Navy.
While VADM Peters acknowledged the symposium’s support from all services, he took the opportunity to describe the Navy’s importance beyond defense. The Navy, he explained, is a central component in maintaining open navigation around the globe. Ninety percent of the world’s commerce moves by sea.
Holding up his smart phone, he rattled off a number of the device’s capabilities and named many of the countries where the various parts are produced that go into enabling those capabilities. More than two-thirds of the US economy depends on maritime trade, he said.
Reflecting on his time as a pilot, he described what it was like to land on a carrier deck when it was so dark you couldn’t see the horizon. “At those times you really want your instruments to work.”
“That’s a little bit about why I’m here,” he added, referring to his role as NAVAIR commander. “What I do is to make sure work performance keeps pace, technology wise, and also that our systems are reliable.”
VADM Peters said that while his naval career has allowed him to work with a number of talented scientists and engineers, he wanted to impress upon those in the audience the importance of the Navy’s work from national defense to day-to-day life.
“We’re counting on you,” VADM Peters concluded. “We need you.”
JSHS is sponsored by the US Army, Navy, and Air Force to promote original research and experimentation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the high school level. This is the first time Maryland’s regional symposium has been held in Southern Maryland.
“We appreciate the senior-level support for this program,” said Bonnie Green, executive director of The Patuxent Partnership. “Having Admiral Peters open this symposium reinforces the critical importance of STEM education, research, and development to the Navy.”
The Patuxent Partnership has an education partnership agreement with St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, who co-hosted the symposium.
TPP fosters collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and expertise across a diverse network that includes government, industry, and academia. TPP also supports STEM education and workforce development within the local community including hosting programs of interest to NAVAIR, NAWCAD, and the broader DoD community.