May 25, 2019  

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Southern Miss to Host First JROTC STEM Invitational Nov. 4-5

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High school cadets from the Jackson Public Schools System and the Mobile County Public Schools System will take part in the first JROTC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Invitational set for Nov. 4-5 at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus.

Thirty cadets from the Jackson area will join 30 cadets from the Alabama Gulf Coast area for the event that will feature tours, recreational activities, design challenges, and an opportunity to attend the USM-Charlotte football game on Saturday afternoon.

Event coordinator Dr. Julie Cwikla notes that the event was planned specifically during November which has been designated as innovation month by Gov. Phil Bryant. Additionally, Saturday’s home football game has been chosen as military appreciation day.

“Bringing high school students to campus serves important goals. First, students have a chance to experience the energy of a university campus and will be challenged in hands-on STEM projects,” said Cwikla, director of Creativity and Innovation at USM. “Secondly, this event provides an opportunity for two large school districts to come together. Also, the cadets are staying at Camp Shelby and will enjoy the African-American History Museum, Camp Shelby Museum and guest speakers from Southern Miss.”

Cadets will engage in two STEM challenges from 2-5 p.m. in Room 101-102 of the Trent Lott National Center. The challenges, designed by Mobile firm STEMWorks, emphasize teamwork skills, and the critical thinking and problem solving engineers use.

Cwikla points out that one challenge involves teams designing an improved amusement park ride – the Dare Devil – so that riders will be safe but will still experience a thrilling, fast, and exciting experience. For the other challenge – Falling with Style – teams will design a glider from simple materials with success being measured by a combination of time in the air and straight line distance traveled.

For more information about the JROTC STEM Invitational, contact Cwikla at 601.266.5116 or