By Earl Bittner, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs Office
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast military members and employees celebrated National Engineers Week by volunteering with the Florida Engineering Society (FES) MATHCOUNTS competition held Feb. 13 at the University of North Florida (UNF) Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
"I believe our nation's future is predicated upon our ability to meet science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education requirements today," said NAVFAC Southeast Executive Officer Capt. Scott Hurst. "This is one way all those who participated from NAVFAC can help shape the future through programs that reach out to young students."
The MATHCOUNTS Competition is the only competition program of its kind, with live, in-person events for 6th, 7th and 8th grade middle school students competing in math. This year approximately 300 students from 44 northeast Florida area schools entered teams of up to ten 'Mathletes each.'
"We [the NAVFAC volunteers] welcomed the teams and chatted with them about the opportunities of an engineering education and encouraged them to continue to hone their math skills," said Katharine Martin, NAVFAC Southeast utilities technical branch supervisor and one of the two dozen NAVFAC Southeast volunteers.
The NAVFAC team of volunteers (military and civilian) served as proctors and scorers for the written portions of the tests.
"Jacksonville has one of the largest MATHCOUNTS competitions in the country and we have a great group of engineers, civilian and military alike, who volunteer their time," said Hurst. "It is extremely important to support these middle school students and let them know what they are doing is important and will lead them to a successful future."
Events are held in all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and schools worldwide through the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department. Competitions take place in more than 500 local chapters.
The competition series is ideal for students who have a talent and passion for math who need to be challenged. Students engage in exciting, "bee-style" contests in which they compete against and alongside other bright, motivated students. At the local, state and national level, students win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes every year.
Martin believes continued support from role models, mentors and MATHCOUNTS competitions help increase the interest in mathematics for young scholars.
"I became interested in engineering societies early in my career," said Martin. "I was encouraged to explore the field and I became an engineer. I hope I can help these young scholars choose a career in engineering."