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I have seen tomorrow, and despite a generally dour attitude regarding the supply of capable youth to fuel this industry's future, I don't think the problem is as bad as projected. This is not to say that there are not issues to address, as statistics clearly show that the U.S. is being soundly throttled by China and India, to name two, in the development and pro- duction of young people with an engineering aptitude. My optimism is based not on an intensive study of educational and testing score trends in

U.S. secondary schools; nor is it based on a collection of insights from a diverse panel of experts. It is based solely on a gut feeling; a gut feeling created by the recent SEAPerch event held in Virginia.

More specifically, it is based on a conversation with

Battlefield High School Team #3 (pictured), a quartet of kids who seem well on their way to succeed, in whatever future endeavor they may choose.

I served as a "Notebooks" judge at the April 26 SEAPerch event, a subsea robotic competition which brought together hundreds of kids from dozens of schools to put through their subsea projects and vehicles through the paces. Through interviewing several teams regarding their project notebooks and designs, a number of thoughts came to me in relation to the industry's push to develop the coming generation: • Mentors: Simply put, the students that had the luxury of interested, involved teach- ers, were themselves interested and involved; those that did not, were not.

Organizations that serve this industry and wish to secure their future should investi- gate sponsorship and mentoring opportunities with local schools or organizations; a small invest- ment with potentially large dividends. Relevance: Today's generation — as have every generation past — speaks its own language and depends on communications media not conceived of just a decade ago. Learn them; use them.

Lockheed Martin, to name one, did a wonderful job at SEAPerch in attracting kids to its table, using interactive video games presented on two large flat-screen monitors. Listen: Battlefield High Team #3's collective knowledge, enthusiasm, interest and execution were outstanding. During their interview they clearly explained the trials and tribulations of building, re- designing and re-building their vehicle, even unwittingly experimenting with a tunnel thruster.

Their project was presented clearly and concisely during the interview, complete with 3D CAD drawings. It was from this one 10-minute chat with four engaging and intelligent students from Battlefield High that I saw tomorrow. It looks pretty good. 6 MTR May 2008

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Vol. 51 No. 4

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Gregory R. Trauthwein • tel: 212-477-6700 editorial “Young people are fitter to invent than to judge ... and more fit for new projects than for settled busi- ness”

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Battlefield HS Team #3

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