NSWC Crane STEM Program thriving at WestGate Academy

WESTGATE – The NSWC Crane STEM Program is proud to present and work with two local students in the Innovate WithIN pitch competition next month.

Interns Lauren Mitchell and Andrew Blessinger representing Boost Box

Interns Andrew Blessinger and Lauren Mitchell of Edgewood High School will pitch their idea of a monthly subscription package for teens struggling with mental illness, named Boost Box.

Winners of the competition will receive seed funding and tuition money for any Indiana college.

Instructor, Brandy Frady has taken advantage of virtual platforms and has set up practice pitches with several STEM professionals on Crane base and individuals within the WestGate@Crane Technology Park.

STEM Instructors left to right: Brandy Frady (instructor of 10 years), Patty Allen (instructor of 4 years) and Tina Closser (instructor of 10 years)

The WestGate Academy has been home to the NSWC Crane STEM program ever since 2013. The program has prospered into a next generation workforce plan for the Indiana Uplands even during the pandemic when the classes were forced to go virtual. While living and working in a virtual world has presented its challenges, it has also opened new opportunities for the students.

“This year we began an internship program for high school seniors and a part of that has included local engineers and employees to hold discussions with our students via a virtual platform. Our lending library of resources has continued as our teachers incorporate STEM activities into their classrooms,” said instructor, Patty Allen.

Each year, curriculum has been provided for roughly 5,000 students in K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs.

Instructor, Tina Closser commented, “WestGate has enabled us to have access to engineers and scientists on (Crane) base and to area schools and teachers. This has created a unique opportunity for the students and teachers to be able to network with STEM professionals.” Large events such as the science fair, robotic events, and summer camps have been hosted at WestGate Academy every year, as it is close to the base and essential for the involvement of the Crane Community.

The NSWC Crane STEM program just celebrated their virtual Science and Engineering Fair last week and is now preparing for their upcoming summer camp where students have an opportunity to attend an in-person camp.

“Our STEM Camps will carry on as always. Last year we were able to utilize the back portion of the (WestGate Academy) building outside to host the students and it worked out wonderfully. We plan to limit the number of students as we did last year. The smaller number allowed the students to have more direct interaction with all of our staff, which we felt made the experience even better,” commented instructor, Patty Allen.

Purdue@WestGate is a regional partner supporting and connecting startups, industry, universities, and the DoD, including hosting several monthly webinars that dive into topics within the defense industry, entrepreneurship, innovation, and personal development. 

Visit https://www.westgate-academy.com/event to view a full calendar of upcoming events, including startups and defense organizations driving Hypersonic innovation.

If you are interested in helping Andrew and Lauren in the navigation of their competition, you may reach out to the NSWC Stem Crew at hoosierrobotics@gmail.com

View the NSWC Crane Division STEM program here: Naval Sea Systems Command > Home > Warfare Centers > NSWC Crane > Partnerships > Educational Outreach > STEM Programs (navy.mil)

View the WestGate Innovate WithIN website here: Innovate WithIN

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s Warfighter.

NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce – from students and entry-level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. NAVSEA support today’s sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems, and computer systems. NAVSEA is continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at crane_recruiting@navy.mil.

Information https://westgatecrane.com/.