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The Boardman Program Facilitates the Development of Professional Paths in Technology

High school students are getting a leg up on their futures while getting hands-on experience in an after-school program that intends to help students create a pathway to a STEM career.

Boardman High School has introduced Youngstown State University’s Assured Digital Microelectronics Education and Training Ecosystem (ADMETE) after-school program to its students this year.

“This is another way to enhance what we’re currently doing with our STEM program, to add another layer and help students be able to recognize that this pathway is out there, and to solve a need for area employers,” Boardman High School Principal Mark Zura said.

The program seeks to develop a pipeline of trained engineering professionals with the required skills in assured and trusted microelectronics solutions. The program’s outreach coordinator, Shawntae Burton, said the pilot program started out of a need for microchips for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“We want to supply the United States government with qualified applicants so that they can do the work to keep our country safe by creating microchips needed for the department,” Burton said.

The students meet after school and are taught by YSU electrical engineering graduate students. The high school students learn the basics of electrical engineering, such as how to configure wires to produce electricity in items that use microchips.

“It gives them a good introduction to microelectronics by working with the basics, the circuits and the wires and the LED flights, all of that is the fundamentals of understanding how these microchips are created,” Burton said. “We’re talking about buzzers and crosswalk signs today, but this eventually leads to the weapons that we need to keep our country safe, or it leads to solving the microchip shortage for the cars that we’re trying to buy today.”

The Air Force has funded a recurring scholarship for students accepted to YSU’s STEM College and majoring in electrical engineering or technology engineering, with plans to go into electrical engineering. Students selected will receive a minimum $2,000 award.

“Everybody’s excited about giving kids money when they go to college, but what about when they get there and how do they stay?” Burton said. “With this grant, we’re super excited to offer recurring funding for those students.”

The program has seen an impressive turnout with an average of a dozen students showing up each meeting, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Ben Ams, an 11th-grader, said his interest in robotics brought him to the program.

“I’ve always been interested in robotics and machines and stuff, so when I heard there was a STEM thing, I thought that would be really fun,” Ams said. “It’s probably the best hour of my school day.”

Ams said he’s not sure whether he wants to pursue a career in STEM, but he does think the program has prepared him to do so if he chooses that pathway.

“I might pursue it, but it seems kind of hard, but I’ll try my best. This program has definitely helped, especially with all of the coding and stuff,” Ams said.