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Defense Students Invited to Work With 'Best Minds' in Science

Samantha L. Quigley, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2009 –

The search is on for three Department of Defense Education Activity students to represent the department’s schools at the 2009 Research Science Institute.

The institute, sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Excellence in Education in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hosts the residential program at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., from June 21 to Aug. 1. The six-week program allows students to work with eminent scientists and researchers and participate in college-level classes designed to sharpen students’ skills as they complete hands-on research.

The institute reserves 50 openings for U.S. students, three of which will go to DoDEA students. Thirty openings are reserved for international students, said Joann DiGennaro, president of the center.

DiGennaro, a former chairman of the U.S. Army War College, founded the center with the late Adm. H.G. Rickover, a nuclear scientist, in 1983. They started the institute as the Virginia-based center’s flagship program a year later to encourage young people to enter careers in science, technology and math, DiGennaro said.

The institute provides “a natural symbiosis” between students from Defense Department schools and the military services and contractors who recruit from its ranks, DiGennaro said, adding that the center has been “extremely pleased” with the DoDEA students they’ve hosted in the past.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for students,” said Frank O’Gara, the department’s educational communications officer. “Students get to meet and to work with some of the best scientists, and best minds really, in the world.

“They’re looking at current research that’s going on in science, in technology and engineering and mathematics,” he added. “They come away from there with some incredible skills and also some wonderful connections that they’ve made.”

Research Science Institute is open to students who will have completed the third year of high school by summer. While application packages must be to Education Activity area deputy directors by Feb. 20, students should check with their schools to see when their principals need them.

Packages must include essay answers to questions regarding goals in math or science, two teacher recommendations, a copy of the student’s high school academic record and record of PSAT scores. It’s recommended that the student’s PSAT score in math be at least 75, and that the combined math and verbal PSAT score should be at least 140.

Students can demonstrate their leadership in a variety of ways, including leadership roles they have taken in various science classes and endeavors, O’Gara said.

“Many of these students have outside interests beyond school where they pursued science, and any of those activities would also be important to include,” O’Gara added.

Students will be notified by mail in mid-March whether they’ve been selected. If selected, students’ expenses, including lodging and meals, are covered. The Education Activity will pay travel expenses for its three students.

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