Middle school students participating in Camp Code at STC named winners of statewide SMARTS competition
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) recognized the winning students Alyssa Martinez and Carter Ponce (front row) in TWC’s and Texas A&M University’s 2022 Clean SMARTS Master Class Competition. Ponce took second place for his product concept titled “Save a Life” meant to alert users when they are in danger of heat stroke. Martinez, a sixth grade student, took third place for an ambassador framework titled “Shaping our Future” with a goal to support at-risk students find their career path.
South Texas College continues to support students from across the region who have become part of the STC family through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez along with representatives from STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing were recently on hand at the La Joya Independent School District regular board meeting to support the winning students in TWC’s and Texas A&M University’s 2022 Clean SMARTS Master Class Competition.
Two middle school students, who also participated in STC’s Camp Code program this summer, competed in a six-part mini-series competition hosted by experts in the areas of national security, manufacturing, applications of nuclear, relationship building and skills in diplomacy, technology and global security otherwise known as SMARTS.
Students Carter Ponce and Alyssa Martinez took second and third place, respectively among more than 5,000 entries in the competition.
“South Texas College was one of the very few colleges around the state to receive the Camp Code (grant) and what this is doing is exposing students to STEM-related occupations that are in the Valley because we now have Space X and liquified natural gas (LNG) industries, as well as advanced manufacturing companies that are moving into Texas. How do you keep up with the workforce demand,” Alvarez asked. “The answer, is you have to educate kids at a young age that these are the occupations that are most in need, but you have to do it early. You have to make STEM and the trades attractive to young people.”
"…you have to educate kids at a young age that these are the occupations that are most in need, but you have to do it early. You have to make STEM and the trades attractive to young people.”
For the competition portion of SMARTS, students were given three options to choose from.
The were tasked with creating a business plan for a non-profit organization or for-profit company in order to address an aspirational need or goal. They could also choose to invent a product concept to address a challenge or issue inspired from Clean SMARTS courses.
Their final option was to choose to develop a Clean SMARTS Ambassador Framework to influence policy, communicate with and educate society and strengthen institutions’ ability to improve scientific literacy among the public.
Carter Ponce took second place for his product concept titled “Save a Life” meant to alert users when they are in danger of heat stroke.
Alyssa Martinez, a sixth grade student, took third place for an ambassador framework titled “Shaping our Future” with a goal to support at-risk students find their career path.
“I began preparing for this competition by watching videos and seeing so many at-risk students without many opportunities for jobs,” said Martinez. “I wanted to do something that can create opportunities for students. Never give up and try to stay positive.”
Ponce and Martinez both credited their win on their participation in STC’s Camp Code program over the summer which exposed them to concepts in STEM through the use of robotics and computer programming concepts.
“Whether it’s through Camp Code or any other program, everything we do is interrelated, and it’s all part of the same fundamental concept and competencies. It all helps them,” said Carlos Margo, Ph.D., STC dean of Industry Training and Advanced Manufacturing. “For anybody who participates in camps, content education or certification training, we consider them all STC students. So, when they receive an award like the students here today did, we are going to be here to support them because they have become part of our STC STEM family.”
For more information on the services and programs offered through STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, visit www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/iam.html.