Student STEM Stars

Japan Engineer District
Published Jan. 26, 2021

CAMP ZAMA, JAPAN – Col. Thomas J. Verell, Jr., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Japan Engineer District’s commander, recognized the hard work and dedication of three Zama Middle High School students by presenting them each a commander’s coin and letter of recommendation for use in their future careers at JED Headquarters, Jan. 22.

The recipients of the awards were 17-year-old Alexander Ala, 17-year-old Elijah Kathey, and 18-year-old, Claudia Sharp. The presentation marked the culmination of the Career Practicum Learning Program, a Department of Defense Education Activity program designed to operate as a living demonstration of the concept that education is a community-wide responsibility.
The program extends student educational opportunities beyond the curricular, physical, and financial resources of the school, offering students opportunities to explore career goals through practical experiences.

The USACE – JED has been a steadfast supporter of the CPLP for many years.

“JED and the school work very well together,” said Daisy Fulford, Career Technical Education teacher, ZMHS, pointed out. “It’s a tremendous benefit to the students that they get hands-on experience in a career they want to pursue.”

Verell is a strong advocate for the promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math principals for DODEA students in Japan leveraging his team of engineers to translate STEM’s concepts into real-world skills for participants. He recently underscored this belief in fostering America’s emerging engineers by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with ZMHS
Jan. 19 proclaiming JED’s commitment to shepherd students in the practice of meaningful STEM application.

“I feel that the program made STEM more clear to me,” said Ala, whose goal is to pursue a degree in engineering physics. “Previously, I only knew it as an abstract concept but here I could see it physically and how it shaped out in the real world.”

“When I came here, I was pretty nervous,” reflected Claudia Sharp, “but they made me feel very comfortable. It was pretty eye-opening to see all these people with different skills working together to make something happen.”

Japan Engineer District is headquartered at Camp Zama and operates field offices throughout Japan. The District executes the Japan Host Nation Funded Construction and U.S. MILCON programs as the Department of Defense design and construction agent. The District supports U.S. Forces and other agencies with quality, professional and comprehensive planning, engineering, construction, environmental and other value-added services.