ALEXANDRIA (WNTZ) – LSUA Chancellor Paul Coreil and Col. Sam Smith, Garrison Commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, have signed an MOU to establish an LSUA branch of STARBASE at Fort Polk. 

DoD STARBASE is a premier educational program, sponsored by the Office of the

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. At DoD STARBASE students participate in challenging “hands-on, minds-on” activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). They interact with military personnel to explore careers and observe STEM applications in the “real world.” The program provides students with 25 hours of stimulating experiences at the National Guard, Marine, Air Force Reserve, Army, and Air Force bases across the nation.

“To make an impact on a child’s education is such a rewarding experience, and to have that opportunity through STARBASE is exhilarating,” said Becca Foltz, LSUA’s Director of STARBASE. “This partnership is committed to providing ‘hands-on, minds-on’ activities, and we are passionate about engaging and challenging our future leaders. This program allows us to leave a positive and indelible mark on students. Exciting things are in the works at LSUA STARBASE Polk Warrior. We cannot wait to open our doors and welcome the next generation.” 

The goal of DoD STARBASE is to motivate students to explore STEAM opportunities as they continue their education. The academies serve students that are historically underrepresented in STEAM. Students who live in inner cities or rural locations, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance, or have a disability are in the target group. The program encourages students to set goals and achieve them.

Col. Sam Smith, Garrison Commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, explained:

JRTC and Fort Polk are committed to offering our Soldiers and Families exceptional education opportunities. We are excited to partner with LSUA to offer the Department of Defense (DOD) STARBASE program. This is an exciting premier educational program that will expose our youth to the technological environments and positive civilian and military role models within our installation and community. The STARBASE initiative offers a positive, proven approach to engendering excitement and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). This knowledge is important to our nation’s future because, during this decade, employment in science and engineering occupations is expected to increase at almost four times the rate for all occupations. Approximately 40% of U.S. 4th graders were rated at or above proficient in a national mathematics assessment, and only 42% of U.S. high school graduates met the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in mathematics, with only 36% in science. The rapid pace of technological change and globalization of the economy require advancements in science and math. Students who attend DoD STARBASE Academies increase their knowledge, skills, attitude, and confidence in STEAM.  

We aim to start this program during the 2022-2023 school year. This STARBASE STEAM program will bridge the learning gap by putting the children at the core of the experience, making them active learners, and exposing our kids to technical areas in a manner that they can get excited about STEAM activities, by seeing, touching, and doing STEAM tasks. With this Quality of Life (QOL) advancement in our STEAM STARBASE groundbreaking, together we are taking the next step in preparing our children to become the innovators and inventors of tomorrow. The program’s success relies on collaboration between our installation the STARBASE Academy, LSUA, our school boards, and the local community. We are privileged to have a great partnership with these stakeholders and look forward to strengthening our partnership and collaboration to invest in our future.

STARBASE serves as an extension of the classroom. Students will work on Louisiana state content standards but in a much different way. Students have access to the latest technologies, such as CAD software and state-of-the-art 3D printers, as they collaborate, inquire, create, and build while trying to solve real-world problems.  It is a program geared to foster an inquisitive mind. 

“Through STARBASE, LSUA is honored to partner with JRTC and Fort Polk in the implementation of innovative STEAM educational initiatives and opportunities, in cooperation with CENLA school systems, that will directly touch students from military families and many other families across the region,” said Paul Coreil, LSUA Chancellor.  “We are extremely excited to be part of such a dynamic and effective STEAM educational partnership and look forward to seeing many positive impacts that will result in improved educational achievement and improved quality of life for JRTC/Fort Polk and for our entire central Louisiana region.”