High school students looking to learn about various STEM fields visited the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus for the Talent Ready program’s first Tech Simulation Day, on July 21.

The Talent Ready program is a new initiative developed by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College (MC), and USG, in collaboration with The Greater Washington Partnership, to increase baccalaureate degree attainment and professional success for students who have been historically underrepresented in IT academic programs and careers. Through this new program, students who are part of the already established Achieving Collegiate Success and Excellence (ACES) program between MCPS, MC and USG, receive support up until the time they earn their bachelor’s degree. 

Support from Talent Ready is then an extension and complement to students’ involvement in ACES, where they can receive personalized career coaching, industry-recognized credentials, IT education/career pathway support, and experiential learning opportunities. As a result, Talent Ready is helping to fill the career pipeline with IT graduates that are prepared for the regional workforce. 

Thirty-seven ACES students from various high schools within MCPS, along with a few MC students, were in attendance. The event opened with a welcome by Alexis Cosby, Talent Ready Pathways and Persistence Coordinator at USG. Cosby’s welcome included an overview of the day and a presentation about the Talent Ready program, as well as the USG campus and how it works. Following the welcome, there was a fun icebreaker activity for the students that consisted of creating an atom based on how many people have been to Disney and other common interests. 

Students then broke out into groups for campus tours, and were then given the opportunity to explore five different academic programs and simulations offered by three of USG’s nine university partners — University of Baltimore, UMBC and University of Maryland, College Park. Rotations included overviews and demonstrations of programs including Biocomputational Engineering, Computer Science, Embedded Systems and Internet of Things, Information Science, and Simulation and Game Design

The rooms were filled with curiosity and excitement as students explored potential programs and career paths. One student shared with us, “Because of today, I can say I am more knowledgeable about the majors that I can study and I am more inclined to look into other majors in the tech field that might interest me.” 

After students finished program rotations, the event closed out with a panel of three current students within the featured IT pathways programs. Panelists encouraged students to not give up and to explore their passions. Another student in attendance noted, “I learned that it’s okay to not know what you want to do immediately, be open to exploring and in the end do something you love.” 

To view photos from the event, please visit our Flickr album here.