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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2011

SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic hosts IT Job Shadow Day

By SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic Public Affairs

High school students from throughout the Tri-county area got a first-hand look at how science and information technologies are creating information dominance for America's Navy during SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic's Information Technology Job Shadow Day Feb. 14.

High school sophomores, juniors and seniors from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester county school districts, along with two Camp Lejeune Marines who are part of the Wounded Warrior program, met with SSC Atlantic leaders as part of a Department of Defense initiative designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science and math. The Shadow Day also gave SSC Atlantic the opportunity to showcase its IT workforce and demonstrate IT skills.

Students didn't watch geeks wearing pocket protectors write programming code. Instead, they toured labs to see equipment - programmed by SSC Atlantic IT personnel - that supports and protects warfighters. Students and accompanying math, science and engineering teachers walked through replicas of submarine radio rooms, visited equipment test chambers, used multi-touch, multi-user screen displays and got a bird's eye view of North Charleston from a working air traffic control tower. The highlight of the day-long event, however, may have been the visit to the center's Real World lab, where tools are built for military mission rehearsals, desktop training simulations and other purposes. Buildings, vehicles, landscapes and objects such as control panels - as well as avatar characters - are created using software, and the resulting products, which are run on immersive 3-D simulators, look and work like video games.

Gary Scott, SSC Atlantic Total Force Director, provided information about the center, and various internship programs and student employment opportunities. "Our goal is to let [the students] see what's possible and opportunities that exist in the field of information technology," Mr. Scott said. Students were also briefed by SSC Atlantic Commanding Officer Navy Capt. Bruce Urbon and via video teleconference, by SPAWARSYSCOM commander Rear Adm. Patrick Brady - and they posed questions to both officers.

According to Captain Urbon, the IT Shadow Day is a win-win for the students and SSC Atlantic. "Students get exposed to a number of IT career field opportunities," he said. "For us, it's an opportunity to plant seeds of interest as we seek to build tomorrow's workforce."

During the lunch break, participants got a chance to operate several types of unmanned vehicles - equipped with wireless network chips, cameras and other sensors - using handheld remote controls and programmed Apple iPads.

SSC Atlantic's IT Job Shadow day is one of many outreach activities designed to inspire, develop and attract the science, technology, engineering and math talent needed to deliver innovative solutions for the nation's and SSC Atlantic's current and future challenges.