Savannah River Site Contractors Provide Major Contributions to Regional “STEM Career Connections” Event

Simeon Thompson (left) and Woodie Melton (far right), both from the Savannah River National Laboratory at SRS, explain to A.R. Johnson High School students how naturally occurring radiation can be found in many household products during this year’s STEM Career Connections event in Augusta, Ga.

AIKEN, S.C. – (Oct. 27, 2017) – Several organizations from the Savannah River Site (SRS) recently reached out to hundreds of high school students from throughout the Central Savannah River Area during this year’s “STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Career Connections.”

Held at the KROC Center in Augusta, Ga., the primary purpose of this interactive forum is to encourage students to explore career opportunities in STEM-based occupations. This was accomplished through interaction with employees representing local companies offering a wide variety of hands-on activities and informative speakers.

Mindy Mets, Nuclear Workforce Initiative Program Manager, SRS Community Reuse Organization, noted that across the nation today, there’s a tremendous need for new STEM-skilled workers.

“This event can really make that connection in a real-life experience,” said Mets. “Having young nuclear professionals from SRS here who the students can relate to carries so much more weight.”

Attending professionals represent a broad range of high-tech industries to include nuclear technology, information technology, cyber security and advanced manufacturing.

“We believe it’s important for students attending this event to understand that highly compensated, STEM-based jobs are here in the local region,” said Mets. “They also need to know what it’ll take to pursue those occupations. That’s one of the reasons we host this event annually.”

According to Kim Mitchell, SRNS Education Outreach, the demand for jobs requiring skilled workers in STEM fields is growing at SRS as well.

“We have multiple programs at SRNS that emphasize the importance of STEM-based curriculum and vocations, such as the Future City Competition, Introduce a Girl to Engineering, Teaching in Excellence Mini-Grants Program, the Science Bowl and the Traveling Science Demonstration Program where SRNS volunteers provide in-school presentations,” said Mitchell.

Teachers and students from 23 high schools registered to attend STEM Career Connections 2017.

Maddie Blair, Savannah River Remediation Education Outreach, said this yearly event is one of the many initiatives SRR supports throughout the school year to get students excited about STEM-related careers.

“The success of the STEM Career Connections event comes from forming relationships with teachers and students who are interested in more STEM-related supplementation in the classroom,” said Blair. “Providing internships to college students, awarding scholarships to graduating high school seniors, funding mini grants to elementary school teachers, and sending engineers to classrooms are some of the many ways SRR supports education in the community.”

Steven Gordon, Jr., a senior at A.R. Johnson High School in Augusta, Ga., noted that an event like this can have a life-long impact. “Seeing all the opportunities in our area is highly motivating and encourages me to pursue my dreams knowing I have a bright future.”

STEM Career Connections is a part of Nuclear Science Week, which is a national celebration that focuses on all aspects of nuclear science. Events during this week provide many learning opportunities that can be found by discovering the world of nuclear science.

Department of Energy contractors SRNS (Silver) and SRR (Bronze) were major sponsors of the annual event.