FMA’s Tech Mania Engages Students through Innovative STEM Presentations

Diane Fitch from Praxis Engineering assists students using wifi technology to catch a spy.

On April 28, 2017, over 120 ninth-grade students from around Baltimore County attended the Fort Meade Alliance’s Tech Mania held at Community College of Baltimore County’s Essex (CCBC) campus.

Students from Catonsville High School, Dulaney High School, Owings Mills High School, Pikesville High School and Woodlawn High School spent the morning rotating throughout classrooms learning and experimenting with various STEM hands-on presentations. These interactive presentations were put together by representatives from Lockheed Martin Corp., Freedom Consulting Group, CCBC Criminal Justice Studies Program and CCBC Medical Laboratory Technology Program.

“The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) was very excited about hosting the spring Tech Mania event at our Essex campus,” said Jack McLaughlin, CCBC’s Dean for the School of Technology, Art & Design. “Having the opportunity to introduce over 120 ninth-graders to STEM fields was truly invigorating.  You can’t help but get excited about seeing young people engaged in something new.”

Lockheed Martin challenged the students to detect and identify signals from hidden “black box” emitters by using RTL-SDR (software defined radio). Students learned about the electromagnetic spectrum and the unseen radio frequency world around them.

Praxis Engineering took the students on a mission to track down a man in a spy ring by using the knowledge provided to them about wifi technology and equipment. Students also used Android equipment to discover the media access control (MAC) address on their phones.

Freedom Consulting Group gave students an introduction to programming and provided them with programming education and career information. The students then learned how programming can make you a master of the popular game Minecraft, using recipe cards to show snippets of actions that can be coded into the game.

Robert Richick of CCBC helps students examine fibers in the Criminalistics Lab.

In the CCBC Criminalistics Lab students experimented with crime scene investigating techniques, which included getting foot impressions using dental stone, fingerprinting, examining firearm evidence and matching hair fibers.

The CCBC Medical Laboratory Technology Program gave students a glimpse of a day in the life of a medical laboratory technician. Students had the chance to use lab equipment and examine different bacteria.

The FMA created Tech Mania in 2008 when the organization identified the need to encourage area students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Since its inception, more than 2,000 students from several central Maryland counties have received hands-on exposure to career opportunities from prominent businesses, federal agencies, and colleges in the region.

Tech Mania is held twice a year, in the Fort Meade region in the fall and in Baltimore County in the spring.