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The Fleet Science Center’s High Tech Fair Connects Students to Scientific Careers

More than 2,500 middle and high school students explore local careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at the Fleet Science Center’s annual High Tech Fair. The event allows students to explore the real-life application of the science they learn in their classrooms to a career in a science- and technology-related industry.

The 2018 Fair saw attendance from approximately 40 San Diego-area schools, 75% of which were Title 1 schools serving a large number of minority students. The event was sponsored by Qualcomm, Solar Turbines, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, SDG&E and UTC Aerospace Systems. More than 30 companies participated, including the Center for Energy Research, the City of San Diego, General Atomics, NOAA, SPAWAR and UCSD, representing industries with a focus in aerospace and defense, biotech, energy and sustainability, environmental science, higher education, technology and finance. Through interactive activities at each booth, students applied scientific concepts in an effort to learn more about the opportunities available to them as they pursue their future careers.

Parents and teachers praised the Fleet’s ability to connect students to the industries of their interest. “I loved that my students didn’t just have to look at brochures or talk with people, but that they could gain access to understanding the what and how and why of the companies through fun activities,” said one local teacher.

Planning for the 2019 High Tech Fair, which will take place January 17–18 at the Balboa Park Activity Center, is currently underway, and the Fleet is looking to expand its offerings. “We are hoping to make this year bigger and better than ever with more exhibitors, more student work representation and more ways to interact via social media,” says Ivel Gontan, Community Programs Senior Manager for the Fleet Science Center. “Exhibitors will also be able to highlight available internship opportunities, so we hope to strengthen the community connections between students and local STEM organizations.”

Because San Diego is home to many different industries that specialize in science and technology, grooming the next generation of scientists is of the utmost importance. The High Tech Fair is instrumental in exposing students to the opportunities that exist right in their own backyard. Through events like this, the Fleet is helping to create a San Diego where everyone is connected to the power of science.

Registration begins in August 2018. Those businesses interested in being exhibitors are encouraged to take advantage of Early Bird rates and register before October 31, 2018. Visit fleetscience.org/events/high-tech-fair or call (619) 238-1233 x723 to register or for more information.

by Brianne Brown

*This article appeared in the Biocom Institute's San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering September 2018 newsletter.