Commander promotes STEM education

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – While marksmanship still has its obvious role in warfare, national defense today depends more on technology than technique. As a result, one of the priorities for military leaders is promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education among tomorrow’s servicemen.
Capt. John McGrath, commander-designate of the USS Mississippi submarine visited Oxford and the University of Mississippi on Monday to support that message.
“We recruit heavily from people with engineering backgrounds and technical degrees,” McGrath said. “We work with the ROTC program here and all over the country to recruit students with high GPAs and technical degrees.” He added that submarine duty is one of the highest-paid jobs in the Navy.
McGrath met with Naval ROTC cadets and toured the National Center for Physical Acoustics and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, among other activities on campus.
“The University of Mississippi is also interested in promoting STEM education,” said Ole Miss Provost Morris Stocks. “It is one of our strategic initiatives.”
The Navy also promotes the initiative through www.stem2stern.org.
“Without a steady stream of scientists and engineers, the Navy’s ability to maintain its (science and technology) superiority will falter over time,” the website states. “Consequently, increasing the STEM pipeline has become a critical priority for the Navy so that we are capable of tackling the challenges of the future.”
McGrath also told an Ole Miss crowd about the USS Mississippi, which will be commissioned June 2. Under construction since 2006, the nuclear-powered attack sub will cost a little more than $2.1 billion. It has a crew of 140, weighs 7,000 tons and carries torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles.
He noted that submarines are some of the most effective weapons delivery systems ever devised.
“We’ve been the first shooters for just about every combat operation for the last several decades,” McGrath said.
errol.castens@journalinc.com