STEM teachers will be students at ERDC’s Annual Reinstatement Program > Center for Engineer Research and Development > News Reports.


VICKSBURG, MRS – Eleven STEM educators from across the country are adding new tools to their skill sets at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Teachers’ Annual Summer Research Program.

The Research Experience for STEM Teachers and Educators (RESET) program was launched earlier this summer. The RESET program, part of the Army’s Educational Extension Program, is designed to provide high-quality professional development and authentic summer research experiences for high school and middle school teachers at participating Army research laboratories and centers.

Dr. Regina O’Leary, professional development coordinator for the Vicksburg Warren School District, has been involved in RESET for four years. The program combines O’Leary’s scientific experience while enhancing her technological awareness and competence, allowing her to apply her newfound knowledge to future educational plans.

“I enjoyed my learning experience with the labs both remotely and in person,” O’Leary said. “The biggest thing about being on-site is translating research into actionable learning. It brings me back to my research roots as a student and research technician in the lab. I’m excited about the opportunity to be involved in developing technology that allows us to learn faster and achieve results. I’m excited to use these learning experiences while building engaging lessons for our students.” I use it to work with teachers.

Like O’Leary, imparting knowledge to her students is one of Tisca Rogers’ goals for entering the program. Rogers, a teacher at Missouri’s Clarkton High School, hopes to apply what she learned at ERDC to encourage her students to pursue careers in STEM.

“I enjoy working with the researchers at ERDC,” said Rogers. “I like to contribute to something bigger than my normal environment. I like to be inspired by my experiences and take this energy back to my classroom. This program will help me bring real-world applications, such as developing stronger building materials and reducing harmful microcystin toxins in the classroom. My goal is to have more of my students in STEM fields.” It is to encourage them to have a career.

The program exposes teachers to a variety of technological resources and introduces creative experiments and tools. Debbie Brenner, a science teacher at New Century Technology High School in Huntsville, Alabama, said she is impressed with all that the ERDC labs and researchers have to offer.

“I’ve seen sophisticated machines used to measure precision and accuracy,” Brenner said. “I get to see how scientists work with volatile substances and understand the importance of safety practices the students learn in my classroom. I help set up and run some lab experiments, which makes me think about how I can do a simple but similar investigation with my students.”

Working with ERDC researchers gives teachers a chance to become students again. Krystal Cole, who serves as principal of the Architecture, Construction, Mechatronics and Engineering Academy at Vicksburg High School, plans to use her experience as an example to encourage her students and other professionals to continue learning.

“This opportunity to work with researchers at the professional level is an amazing experience that I plan to share with other educators and students to inspire them to become lifelong learners,” Cole said.

Tracy Gordon, a retired teacher who serves as ERDC’s integration and STEM outreach coordinator, credits the program for promoting development among educators and educating future STEM professionals.

“The program is an incredible professional development opportunity for STEM educators,” Gordon said. “It increases teacher awareness of STEM careers at ERDC and the Department of Defense. The teachers then transfer their knowledge to their students. The RESET program is a great way to train trainers and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Participating teachers are learning more about the latest research methods; STEM careers are getting a glimpse of what the future holds. Mark Burgos, an eighth-grade robotics teacher at Innovation Academy in Vicksburg, appreciates that ERDC provides valuable information for the future of his students.

“It’s amazing because so many teachers realize what opportunities are out there for students,” Burgos said. “That way, they can tailor their lesson plans to teach their students the lessons they need when they start looking for jobs.”

Researchers recognize the critical role the program plays in bringing attention to ERDC. Luke Gurtowski, research chemical engineer at ERDC, believes the RESET program is ideal for recruiting and expanding ERDC’s reach.

“The RESET program is important to ERDC in providing immediate support for research and long-term employability through investment in STEM,” said Gurtowski.

Visit the Restart the website For more information about the program and how to get involved.

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