By Patrick Bray
Far East District
SEOUL, Republic of Korea - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense Schools Korea District signed an education partnership agreement at Seoul American High School. The partnership will center on support for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics initiative, better known as STEM.
About 50 students and teachers gathered to witness the signing at the high school media center March 7.
Superintendent Dr. Irby Miller, spoke about the school district's responsibilities under the partnership.
"The bottom line is it is all of you (students) who will benefit from what we are doing in terms of putting together a partnership," said Miller. "This opportunity to consummate a partnership agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and our schools is very significant."
Maj. Gen. Kendall Cox, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy commanding general for military and international operations, stressed the importance of STEM to the students.
"Those four fields fundamentally deal with solutions and our ability to solve very difficult problems that other people might not want to deal with, let alone attempt to solve," said Cox. "So your challenge is not that you just want to take an interest in those fields, but to solve those problems for the next generation."
Cox emphasized that his role as an engineer officer is to ensure that there will always be an abundance of future engineers emerging from the younger generation. This commitment will be fulfilled in Korea by the Corps of Engineers Far East District which will collaborate with the DoD schools and provide STEM opportunities for students.
"We are going to provide you with the assistance and the support that you need to gain that passion -- to gain that desire -- to want to be someone that's involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics," said Cox.
Cox further emphasized the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain economically and technologically competitive in the global marketplace.
"In the year 2020 there is going to be a requirement in the U.S. for 2.6 million engineer or STEM background graduates from our universities," said Cox. "If things don't change from the way they are today, we will have a shortfall of over 1 million STEM graduates."
The Corps of Engineers also recognizes the importance of ensuring a diverse and highly competent STEM workforce. Cox talked about the current demographic situation of the STEM fields which often sees minorities and women underrepresented.
"I'm excited to see the audience that's here today because you break all those barriers," said Cox to the diverse group of students. "You far exceed the dynamics that I just described, but more importantly I am excited to see that you are here today."
Some of the opportunities that the Far East District will provide include field trips to the district's chemistry and materials testing laboratories and mentoring by the district's many STEM experts.