Coast Guard invites students to base for STEM push

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – It’s heard over and over again: kids need to get interested in STEM – or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.

Wednesday, the Coast Guard brought high school students from Woodrow Wilson High School, Alliance Christian Academy and home schools to its Portsmouth base. The goal was to show them how STEM courses can help them later in life.

Photos: Coast Guard STEM event

“I came out here because I’d like to be an engineer at some point and I thought – what better way to find out about engineering than on a coast guard base?” said Zachary Smith, a sophomore who plans to go into mechanical or biomedical engineering.

The Coast Guard would like to see more kids like him.

“The country in general has a need for STEM-educated children and students coming in,” Capt. Joel Dolbeck said. “So if the Coast Guard can benefit, that’s great, but really it’s our nation that benefits from this program.”

Students like Smith benefit, too.

“I went on the cutter, there’s a helicopter, we got to see the small boat,” he said. “It just shows me what I can do with myself and through what others have done, how much more there is to do out there.”

Not everyone who attended will go into a STEM-related field – but the event might just hook a few.

“I find if they get very interested in seeing a Coast Guard helicopter and the engineering behind [it], that may lead them to enroll in a course in high school or maybe look to go to college or maybe go to the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Academy to follow that passion,” Dolbeck said.

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