12 December 2019
Dr. Ja’Mar A. Watson, Executive Director and Founder of the Watson Institute for SciEng Research, delivers the keynote speech, assists in student engagements, and is presented the ‘Investing in the Next Generation Award’ at the 7th Annual Engineering Day at Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C.
The Annual Engineering Day at Phelps gives organizations opportunities to exhibit and meaningfully engage hundreds of middle and high school students from DC private, public, and charter schools, as well as home-schooled students. The sponsors of the Engineering Day are the network of industry support partners: a group of engineers, architects, project managers and other STEM professionals; parents, alumni and organizations. These sponsors, who have partnered with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) Academy of Engineering to support the goal of recruiting and preparing young people for STEM careers, encouraging more women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, highlighting leadership abilities of the students, and showcasing Career and Technical Education programs at Phelps, are an integral part of the event.
Dr. Watson gave the keynote, focusing on opportunity, investing, and making a difference. He highlighted that engineering at the high school level is rare in the United States (Phelps is the only high school in all of DC to offer architecture and construction trade programs) and Phelps exposing students to the technical rigors of engineering at such a young age is an opportunity that will never be presented to most middle school students in this country. He encouraged students to start now in investing in their futures and pursuing their passions and challenged them to understand the concept of ‘time is money’ and rethink where they are investing their time and how they are choosing to spend their time. Lastly, Dr. Watson emphasized making a difference in themselves and others. He explained how all students who work hard in school have the opportunity to get good grades, but not all students are spending their time outside of the classroom to invest in their future. Those are the defining characteristics that make a difference in the students and allow them to make a difference in their neighborhoods, communities, and the world.
Following the plenary were many student engagements, allowing them to participate in hands-on STEM activities with industry partners and learn about the exciting programs at Phelps. In one session, groups of students visited exhibitors to learn about careers and engage in stimulating activities. In another, a panel of Phelps engineering students, university undergraduates and engineering professionals discussed pathways to becoming an engineer. Specifically, Dr. Watson volunteered to advise and conduct mock interviews for students preparing to enter collegiate studies and the workforce.
For his inspiration to students not only during Phelps Engineering Day but also throughout his 13+ years as an engineer working in national security, 8+ years coaching student-athletes in the throwing events of track and field, and his continued leadership and guidance to many young people seeking to pursue studies and careers in STEM disciplines, Dr. Ja’Mar A. Watson was presented with the ‘Investing in the Next Generation Award’. The award recognizes Dr. Watson for his “commitment to closing the skills gap and making a difference in the lives of young people”.
SciEng Research would like to thank NAF and the Phelps administration for the opportunity to inspire hundreds of students. Dr. Watson extends his appreciation to NAF leaders Ms. Ola Teyibo (Academy Director) and Mrs. Tosha Shirriel (Academy College & Career Coordinator), as well as Phelps’ Principal: Dr. Joshua Emmett and Assistant Principal: Ms. Kimberly Douglas.
While the Institute typically makes its charitable contribution to society through technical journal publications of its research, please consider donating to make possible the continued reach-back and support of Phelps’ mission of preparing students for higher education and careers in STEM disciplines. With your donation, SciEng Research will be able to fulfill Phelps’ compelling vision that “Every student will have access to a strong academic program, a diverse curriculum, and hands on rigorous instruction. Students will increase their critical thinking and organizational skills in order to prepare them for college and the professional workforce.”