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Weapons Division hosts STEM teachers for orientation tour

Weapons Division hosts STEM teachers for orientation tour

Story by Kimberly Brown on 01/16/2019

Twenty-four science, technology, engineering and math teachers from eight different school districts across Ventura County visited Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division facilities in Point Mugu, California, on Jan. 8.

The tour is the first in a series jointly organized by the Ventura County Office of Education and multiple commands at Naval Base Ventura County, including NAWCWD.

“This has been a dream of mine for probably six years,” said Dr. Tiffany Morse, VCOE’s executive director, addressing the teachers. “As teachers, you probably don’t get a chance to come here and see what jobs are available locally for your students. You can make connections between what is happening here and what you are doing in your classrooms.”

A recurring theme throughout the tour: I’ve lived here all my life, but I never knew what you guys did here. Rich Burr, NAWCWD’s STEM champion, noted that, as the largest employer in Ventura County, it’s in the Navy’s interest to help spread the word about what we do, and about the available, interesting jobs right in everyone’s back yard.

“The largest part of who we employ at NAWCWD and the other warfare centers are scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technicians,” Burr said. “When we bring kids out, and we can get just one excited about STEM, that’s great. But teachers? Teachers can touch hundreds of students.”

The touring teachers had an opportunity to learn about Point Mugu Sea Range operations as well as various aspects of the Threat/Targets Department, including aerial, surface and unmanned target operations at Point Mugu and Port Hueneme.

“As a STEM teacher I’m always looking for ways to apply what I’m teaching to real life situations, and this trip showed a lot of those connections,” said Gary Norwalt, computer science and robotics teacher at Colina Middle School in Thousand Oaks, California. “So many technologies that I am using in my class were showcased throughout the trip. This really helps me to show the students how the things they learn in my class will be used later on.”

Teachers also had the opportunity to interact with NAWCWD employees, learning about how they came to the job and getting a feel for educational opportunities available. They learned about the types of degreed and non-degreed positions and hiring programs their students might be able to use in the future.

“A couple of the employees detailed the grants they used to get them through school and into this job,” said Augustin Garcia, computer science teacher at Rio Vista Middle School in Oxnard, California. “The fact that there are many good jobs is very encouraging for many of my students. I need them to see this so that it supports the idea that following a pathway through school may lead them to a good-paying, stable job out of high school or college.”

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