Youth Summit at CSM Leonardtown Tues. Seeks to Raise Awareness of Tech Careers

Organizer of the first Youth in Technology Summit Al Leandre received the Black Engineer of the Year Entrepreneur award in 2008. He is founder and owner of Vyalex, a contractor specializing in Avionics Engineering and Program Management Services. (Submitted photo)
LEONARDTOWN, Md. (Dec. 14, 2008)—Hi-tech dreams and determination can start at a very young age. Just ask Vyalex Management Solutions founder Al Leandre, organizer of the 2008 Southern Maryland Youth in Technology Summit at the College of Southern Maryland's Leonardtown Campus Tuesday, Dec. 16.

At the age of 3, Leandre watched as his father boarded a plane to travel from his homeland of Haiti to the United States.

"I remember thinking that one day I will know how this mysterious winged tube can travel to such wonderful places. I committed myself from that point to endeavor to learn as much as I could about flight," said Leandre.

Because of his determination and through the help and mentoring of many teachers along the way, Leandre fulfilled his dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer. Now, through the Youth in Technology Summit, he wants to help local students dream big and find their own pathway to success.

The summit, conceived by Leandre, and co-sponsored by C&M Solutions, Patriots Technology Training Center, LLC and the College of Southern Maryland, will give high school, college and even middle school students a chance to explore the fields of health care, science, technology, engineering and math as they contemplate future careers.

The summit will focus on four subject areas: aerospace technologies, energetics/ordnance technologies, health care technologies and education/scholarship opportunities. Displays, demonstrations and hands-on activities are designed to make the evening a fun event for local students, according to CSM Vice President and Dean of the Leonardtown Campus F.J. Talley.

"It is essential to reach as many young students as possible to expose them to the incredible variety of careers related to science and technology," said Talley. "My hope is that students who have yet to begin considering careers will include in their career exploration these fields, and that their introduction to these fields can be compelling and fun-the Youth in Technology Summit is designed to do just that," added Talley.

"We want to inspire students to graduate high school and provide them with incentives to excel in the areas of math and science," said Leandre. "The idea is for them to connect the dots toward a great career in technology. This event will expose students to the opportunities that await them after college in both the private sector and the military," Leandre added.

Beginning at 4 p.m., students will have many opportunities to interact with science and technology career professionals. They will also have the opportunity to ride and drive a General Motors/Chevrolet fuel cell electric vehicle.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Pax River will provide displays and demonstrations ranging from a telemetry tracking van, post-flight debriefing system for pilots and high-speed video playback technology used in crash simulation testing.

"Students can learn first-hand how some of the coldest stuff in the universe can be used for navigation, magnetometers and precision clocks," explained Dr. Frank Narducci, a physicist with NAWCAD and a summit participant. Narducci will conduct demonstrations using liquid nitrogen.

NAVAIR will also provide an overview of the use of simulation equipment to support naval aviation.

"The summit will be a great opportunity for youth in our area to see first-hand how technology is used to support our men and women in uniform. Attendees will get a chance to fly a simulation of the Navy's top-of-the-line fighter, the F/A-18. That doesn't happen very often," said Dr. Steve Naylor, an aerospace engineer NAWCAD.

NAVSEA scientists and engineers from three of the Naval Surface Warfare Centers-Dahlgren Laboratory, Indian Head Division and the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division-will provide a fun and possibly 'hair-raising' experience by engaging them in scientific experiments using electricity, magnets, liquid nitrogen, robotics, ultrasonic inspection units and Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Fuzes, just to name a few. After each demonstration, the presenter will discuss the relationship between the materials used in the demonstration and naval research and development.

"Today, our country does not have enough mathematicians, scientists and engineers to meet our country's needs. While we are obviously interested in people coming to work for the Naval Warfare Centers, we all have an obligation to demonstrate to our children the fun and excitement that comes from being able to create and produce a new product or service whether for DoD, the Navy or industry," said Capt. Sheila Patterson of NAVSEA's Dahlgren Laboratory.

CSM Chair of Business and Technology Division Jeff Tjiputra, who coordinates area robotics competitions, will bring sample robots created by students for participants to take for a spin. High school students who have built robots and competed in area robotics competitions will be on hand to speak to attendees.

Students interested in the field of exercise science, health and wellness, or fitness and recreation will observe a demonstration on metabolic testing. This type of testing is used by clinical health professionals, exercise scientists, exercises physiologists and athletic trainers. For athletes, an exercise metabolic assessment can determine peak performance and guide training programs.

CSM's Wellness, Fitness and Recreation staff will use state-of-the-art metabolic testing equipment to measure oxygen consumption during various stages of exercise.

"Attendees will see the technical equipment available to professional exercise scientists, physiologists and fitness trainers and also learn the educational background and salary history required to work in this field," said CSM Interim Director for Wellness, Fitness and Recreation Judi Ferrara.

CSM Professor of Nursing Rose Miller has worked to coordinate a full slate of health fields for students to explore. "We will have medical equipment and lab demonstrations for students interested in registered nursing, LPN, medical assistant, physical therapy assistant, respiratory therapy assistant and medical coding careers," said Miller. St. Mary's Hospital and Calvert Memorial Hospital will have representatives to speak about employment opportunities and benefits at their facilities.

In addition to information on technology and health care careers, attendees will learn about the college's resources.

"We want to show students that the road to a successful career in the field of technology can start in their own hometown," said Talley. "Students can earn an associate degree at CSM and then transfer to one of several Maryland four-year colleges," he added.

Scholarships, financial aid, cooperative study and internships are available to help students with tuition and fees. Information on grants and scholarships given by the state of Maryland as incentives for students to consider specific areas of study will also be available at the summit. If students are determined and focused on careers in science and technology, college costs should not hold them back, according to Talley.

Leandre understands determination. His dreams of airplanes pushed him to study hard while in grade school in Haiti. Then, an opportunity to come to the U.S. brought him to Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C. where one of his teachers insisted that he apply for a summer engineering internship at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"That internship honed my skills in math and science toward applications that I always wanted to pursue," he said. Leandre earned a BS in aerospace engineering from Syracuse University. In 2008 Leandre received the National Black Engineer of the Year Entrepreneur Award.

Leandre wants to provide the same kind of encouragement to Southern Maryland students. Helping to connect the dots from career dreams to career success through events such as the Youth in Technology Summit, Leandre believes, will enable students to see possibilities that they may have believed were beyond their reach.

The Youth in Technology Summit will be held Tuesday, Dec. 16 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a snow date of Wednesday, Dec. 17 at the Leonardtown Campus of the College of Southern Maryland, 22950 Hollywood Rd., Leonardtown, Md.

For information or to pre-register online for the event look for the 2008 Youth in Technology Summit links on major participant websites: Vyalex at; C&M Solutions, LLC at; Patriots Technology Training Center at; the College of Southern Maryland at; or contact Nina Graves at CSM's Leonardtown Campus at 443-550-6199, Ext. 5312.

Parents and students are encouraged to pre-register for the event online. Participants will be eligible to win a Nintendo® Wii™, an Apple® iPod™ and other prizes.


For information on science, technology, engineering and math programs at CSM visit .

For information on nursing and allied health technology programs at CSM visit .

Youth Summit Participant Profiles

The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) engineers, builds, buys and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems for the U.S. Navy. NAVSEA is the largest of the Navy's five system commands and is composed of a 53,000 civilian, military and contractor workforce. Today, the NAVSEA organization has 33 activities in 16 states and manages roughly 150 acquisition programs as well as foreign military sales to partner nations. For information, visit

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), headquartered in Patuxent River, provides unique engineering, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support and program management capabilities to deliver airborne weapons systems that are technologically superior and readily available. Federal civil service workers, contractors and military personnel comprise the workforce. There are eight principal continental United States sites and one site overseas. For information, visit

Vyalex Management Solutions (VMS) is a prime contractor specializing in Avionics Engineering and Program Management Services. Its Total Technology Program (VTTP) is a platform developed to manage the recruitment of students for government agencies and private institutions. For information, visit

C&M Solutions, LLC is a small woman-owned SBA Certified Small Disadvantage Business (SBD) located ¼-mile south of the Naval Air Warfare Center at Patuxent River. C & M Solutions provides IT management and technical support, logistics supply/inventory management, facilities management and data management and development. For information, visit

Patriots Technology Training Center is a nonprofit organization that has been in existence since 1997. Its mission is to bridge the digital divide for students who may not have the opportunity to do so. Patriots prepares members with leadership potential and a road map to a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) fields. For information, visit

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