Local High School Students Get Hands-On Scientific Computing Experience

For the past eight months, Dave Biersach, a technology architect at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Information Technology Division (ITD), has volunteered his time to teach weekly scientific computing seminars to local high school students.

The primary mission of the program is to address the gap in scientific computing skills that exists among young people who are considering careers in science.  To address the challenge, the Lab is taking a leadership role by working with seven local school districts to introduce scientific computing to their students.

To celebrate the achievements and congratulate the students who participated in the program, the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs (OEP) recently held a seminar for invited teachers, students, parents, and Lab staff.  The event was also an opportunity to thank everyone who helped make the program a success.

At the seminar, Brookhaven Lab Deputy Director for Science and Technology Robert Tribble gave the keynote address. “The U.S. Department of Energy has a strong commitment to education,” said Tribble. “As our future leaders your knowledge and work in this field will be beneficial to science and our nation.”

Biersach added, “Scientific computing skills are very different than the computing most of us do every day. Gaining a better understanding in this contemporary field will help these students make important contributions to meaningful research.”

“I am so pleased that our students had the opportunity to be introduced to 21st century workforce development skills in scientific computing,” added Maria Brown, a science teacher at Sayville High School.  “Often our top math students do not recognize the connection between math and the programming necessary to analyze big data. Scientific computing has opened the door for future applications in fields they love with the knowledge that there is a market out there for these skills. Based on this wonderful experience, I believe this will help the students make informed decisions about their potential career paths.”

Brown’s colleague Richard Caskey, a technology education teacher at Sayville High School  whose students also participated in the program, agreed that the collaboration between the school districts and the Lab helped students to excel in scientific computing and coding while working remotely from home. “As teachers, we certainly look forward to providing students with new skills for mathematics and solving problems,” he said.

Participating school districts included Eastport-South Manor, Freeport, Islip, Middle Country, Sayville, Smithtown, and Westhampton.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy.  The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.  For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

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