ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 30, 2017) - The U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program recognized a research and development center for the third year in a row for its volunteer spirit and support in reviewing student submissions for one of its programs.

The Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, also known as CERDEC, once again topped the list of 43 organizations volunteering in eCYBERMISSION, a program designed to cultivate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

The award, recognizing the highest level of virtual judging participation by a single organization, was presented at the ceremony culminating the national judging and educational event June 30 in Leesburg, Virginia. Top honors for the students’ projects judged were also awarded at the ceremony.

Sixty-three CERDEC virtual judges reviewed hundreds of the 23,323 projects submitted by sixth through ninth grade students from all over the U.S. When reviewing each package, judges spent about an hour evaluating how well the project answered various areas of contest guidelines.

"A majority of the people who volunteer [to judge] are those who've done it before, so they know what their work means to both CERDEC and the students,” said Tomeika Dyer, CERDEC Outreach technical instructor/course developer.

Once people have a general idea of what's expected, their excitement is contagious. “We look forward to continuing to build our judging pool next year,” she said.

Overall, the Army had 2,432 volunteers from 43 organizations participating in judging this year’s 14th eCYBERMISSION. CERDEC’s judges were comprised of civilians, military personnel and contractors, who volunteered their time to review and score the packages.

“With CERDEC’s focus on developing our current workforce, taking time to volunteer in programs like eCYBERMISSION, is one way we can spark the interest of today’s youth in STEM, because they are our nation's workforce of tomorrow,” said Dr. Donald Reago, acting CERDEC director.

The goal of eCYBERMISSION is to involve students in hands-on, inquiry-based learning projects that challenged them to formulate a solution to an identified community problem using scientific and engineering design best practices.

“I’ve seen firsthand the need to maintain a workforce capable of envisioning the future. That includes a willingness to reach out to the young people who will develop the new technologies to make that vision reality. It’s a win-win-win scenario: for the kids, for CERDEC and for our country’s workforce,” he said.