Words and Image by Jenny Lynn Davis
Kathy Byars, the Center Executive Officer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, gave a presentation to students from Walker County and Jasper City during the STEM22 Kickoff at Jasper High School on Tuesday.
STEM22 is a program that was created to provide students with a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and is a partnership between Walker County Schools, Jasper City Schools, Bevill State Community College, The Alabama Power Foundation, and The Walker Area Community Foundation.
The program aims to prepare students for careers in STEM fields and includes internships, job shadowing, and other experiential learning opportunities.
STEM22 also places a strong emphasis on career readiness to help students develop the necessary soft skills and professional competencies to succeed in the workplace.
Funding for STEM22 comes from grants and donations from local businesses and individuals who believe in the importance of STEM education for the future of the community.
During her presentation, Byars provided students with an overview of several upcoming NASA projects, including complex human missions to both the moon and Mars. She emphasized that these missions are not just for NASA’s learning but also to inspire the next generation to keep learning and discovering science.
Byars encouraged the students to maintain their passion for STEM education and pursue careers in the field, reminding them that they don’t have to travel far to see STEM at work.
“Marshall Space Flight Center is one of ten NASA field centers across the country, and it’s right here in Alabama,” she said. “While it’s easy to talk about the things we anticipate doing, the hard part is doing them. There still exist gaps in knowledge and technology, and that is where you [students] come in. You are the ones that are going to solve the problems and inspire your generation, and generations beyond. This is a legacy that you’re going to carry throughout your lives, and we hope you are as excited about it as we are. You’re doing the work to better our future.” WL