West Point cadets and professor hold STEM sessions for Penn Hills students | TribLIVE.com
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Dillon Carr

A group of Penn Hills students will go home for the summer with a bit more knowledge in STEM fields after a special encounter with U.S. Military Academy West Point.

Assistant Professor Samuel Ivy and two other cadets spent time teaching eighth-, ninth- and 10th-grade students about coding, electrical engineering and Morse code June 10 and 11 as part of the university’s recruitment efforts.

“I hope after this these students consider STEM subjects as a career. And if they go to college, maybe they’ll consider getting a degree in a STEM subject. And maybe West Point could be that school for them,” Ivy said.

In all, around 50 students were chosen by their teachers to participate in the one-day session spread over two days for different age groups.

Braiden Phillips, 15, is a Navy Junior ROTC officer at the high school. He said he does “military stuff” every day, but this was a challenge.

“But once they helped and explained, it got easier,” he said.

The school’s ROTC program is one of two that are on the chopping block in an effort to achieve a balanced budget for the district.

Emma Terry, 15, said she had never been exposed to the activities presented.

“But it’s always nice to learn new things. I’ve never thought of any of this stuff before. It was a little hard,” Terry said.

Ivy said the program is meant to be a challenge.

“We hope the students get more confident in their abilities. At West Point, we not only want to produce soldiers — we’re passionate about creating a more profound pool of STEM talent for the country,” he said.

Ivy reached out to district Superintendent Nancy Hines after learning she had a connection with Lt. Col. Rance Lee, a Penn Hills High School alumnus, from the university’s admissions office.

Hines said Lee has made several recruitment visits to the school in the past, but was thrilled to have Ivy come to the district with an educational element.

“All feedback received from those involved has been very favorable,” Hines said.

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