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Corps evaluates STEM competition at Tennessee State University

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published April 7, 2016
Courtney Eason, realty specialist in the Real Estate Office judges a Science, Technolgy, Engineering and Math project for students from Rucker Middle School sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University in 
Nashville, Tenn., on April 7, 2016.

Courtney Eason, realty specialist in the Real Estate Office judges a Science, Technolgy, Engineering and Math project for students from Rucker Middle School sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn., on April 7, 2016.

Stephanie Coleman, an Equal Employment Office specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Nashsville District talks with Dana Stopinski and Tyler Roberts from Central Magnet High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a group of technical experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District attended a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Science Expo as judges and also staffed an exhibit sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn on April 7, 2016.

Stephanie Coleman, an Equal Employment Office specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Nashsville District talks with Dana Stopinski and Tyler Roberts from Central Magnet High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a group of technical experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District attended a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Science Expo as judges and also staffed an exhibit sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn on April 7, 2016.

Ben Rohrbach, chief, Nashville District Hydraulics and Hydrology presents Peyton Ball and Michael Chan with a glass trophy and certificate for their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math project at a science expo sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University  in Nashville, Tenn., on April 7, 2016.

Ben Rohrbach, chief, Nashville District Hydraulics and Hydrology presents Peyton Ball and Michael Chan with a glass trophy and certificate for their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math project at a science expo sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn., on April 7, 2016.

Mark Abernathy, Visual  Information specialist with the Corps’ Army Corps of Engineers Information Technology Operations talks with Knnley McNabb and Baily Shedden as he judges their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math project sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University  in Nashville on April 7, 2016.

Mark Abernathy, Visual Information specialist with the Corps’ Army Corps of Engineers Information Technology Operations talks with Knnley McNabb and Baily Shedden as he judges their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math project sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub at the Tennessee State University in Nashville on April 7, 2016.

David Claussen and Stephanie Coleman, both Equal Employment Office specialists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talk with Dr. Lauren Ricky from the Johnson Learning Center Metro Nashville Public Scholls at a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Science Expo April 7, 2016 sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub on the Tennessee State University campus at the Gentry Center. The group staffed the exhibit and talked with students about Corps STEM subjects.

David Claussen and Stephanie Coleman, both Equal Employment Office specialists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talk with Dr. Lauren Ricky from the Johnson Learning Center Metro Nashville Public Scholls at a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Science Expo April 7, 2016 sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub on the Tennessee State University campus at the Gentry Center. The group staffed the exhibit and talked with students about Corps STEM subjects.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 7, 2016) – A group of technical experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District judged a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Science Expo today and staffed an exhibit sponsored by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub on the Tennessee State University campus at the Gentry Center.

 Ben Rohrbach, Nashville District Hydraulics and Hydrology chief; Mark Abernathy, Visual  Information specialist with the Corps’ Army Corps of Engineers Information Technology Operations; Courtney Eason, realty specialist in the Real Estate Office, Amy Robinson and Lisa Morris, Regulatory Division environmental engineers, served as judges at the event.

 Carol Haynes, chief of Equal Employment Office, along with David Claussen and Stephanie Coleman, Equal Employment Office specialists, and Old Hickory Lake Park Ranger Brent Sewell staffed the exhibit and talked with students about Corps STEM subjects.  

 The Nashville District team at the exhibit shared their knowledge about engineering, water management, dam safety, regulatory protection of natural resources, and the role of park rangers who are stewards of the land and water, and who look out for the safety of visitors at Corps projects.

 The STEM Expo showcased original constructed projects designed and built by middle and high school students from the STEM Hub partnering school districts. 

 “We are so glad to have so many schools participate and especially have the Corps a part of this program,” said Dr. Vicki Metzgar, Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub director.  “The program allows us to assemble and honor student’s projects and showcase their excellent knowledge about STEM subjects.”

 More than 300 students attended the expo with teams producing and managing 138 projects from counties in middle Tennessee, including Metro Nashville public schools, Sumner County, Clarksville-Montgomery County school system, and private schools such as Harpeth Hall. The Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub organized the program, which is designed to encourage students to enroll or challenge themselves in STEM fields that involves designing, building, processing and analyzing STEM questions and problems.

 The Tennessee State University college of Engineering served as sponsor for the event and S. Keith Hargrove, dean, College of Engineering Professor, Mechanical & Manufacturing engineering Department Director, Tiger Institute thanked teachers, and  parent’s for their participation.  He also lauded students for their inspiration, motivation and display of STEM projects.

 “We are excited about playing a role in middle Tennessee and we want to continue encouraging more students to participate in STEM activities and strongly consider STEM careers,” said Hargrove.

 Metzgar said the STEM Hub provides a valuable exchange and a network of ideas and resources for schools, colleges and universities, and network partners to serve the STEM needs of the middle region of Tennessee.

 “This is the biggest and best expo we have had to date and we are so thankful that the Engineering Department from Tennessee State University to serve as host for this year’s program on their campus and all our sponsors,” said Metzgar.

 Rutherford County schools represented well.  At an awards ceremony near the end of the Expo, Rohrbach recognized the district winner from Central Magnet High school in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Peyton Ball, Michael Chan and Lisa McDougal were presented a glass trophy and certificate for their STEM project.

 “STEM projects are very important to the Corps,” said Rohrbach. “Not only is it important for us to be involved in our local schools, colleges and community but for districts all over the country to hire these young smart people in the future.”

 The group’s project was a kitchen aid application that measures water.   The STEM Expo showcased original projects designed and built by Middle and High school students from the STEM Hub partnering school districts.

 “We are happy to be at this year’s expo and we are thankful for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers recognizing our project,” said Ball.



Colin Miller, student at Indian Lake Middle School in Hendersonville, developed a project with his team about how various types of light that affect plant growth.  The students collected data, scientific research and explained the depth of measurement.  Eason was interested in the process and methods required to sustain the light and plant growth and asked him about its applications and data.

“These kids have built some great projects and are very smart,” said Abernathy.

 According to Metzgar, the STEM program helps students learn key academic content, practice skills through hands on learning and understand technology which is necessary for success such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

“These kids have got all kinds of creativity, excitement and energy and that’s what we need for our next generation of STEM professionals,” said Metzgar.

She said students in grades 5-12 in schools of STEM Hub Partners participated in the 2016 STEM EXPO at TSU.  There were five categories of projects - STEM Research, Engineering I, Engineering II, Agricultural STEM, and Technology. The sponsoring school/district determines their category.

Schools from STEM Hub partner districts were eligible to register one entry per category (maximum of five entries per school). Districts could enter a maximum of 50 projects.

“I was happy to evaluate the projects,” said Abernathy.  “I was impressed by the level of technology and information as each group understood and explained their projects.” 

 “This has been a great event for our kids and we are thankful for the sponsors like TSU, the STEM hub, the Corps of Engineers and other businesses who make themselves available to explain engineering for the kids and helps them start thinking about a career field in science, technology, engineering and math at an earlier age,” said Stephanie Miller, the mother of Colin Miller and project transporter.   “I think this program gives them an advantage because the group was exposed to different aspects of the project which allowed them to put their science knowledge to good use.”  

 The Nashville District supports STEM programs and is an official partner of the Stratford STEM Magnet High School. For more information, go to the district’s STEM Support Page. For more news and information, follow the district on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps.