Developing future engineers through outreach and mentoring—the SAME Kaiserslautern Post recently brought this important part of the SAME mission statement to life by helping orchestrate the Boy Scouts of America Barbarossa District Merit Badge University event. Kaiserslautern Post members teamed up with engineers from Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe, the 86th Civil Engineer Group, the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, the 435th Construction Training Squadron, local contractors and Boy Scout Troop 69 to lend their time and expertise in leading numerous engineering-related merit badges.The successful event attracted more than 170 scouts from 12 different troops. In addition to logistical support throughout the day, the Post contributed engineers to instruct numerous technical merit badges including Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Science, Emergency Preparedness, Fire Safety and Surveying. According to Col. John Parker, USAF, Troop 69 Scoutmaster and Merit Badge University lead, “What made Merit Badge University such a great success is that the bulk of the instruction was provided by subject-matter professionals, not Scout leaders. This led to an amazingly high level of quality in the knowledge passed to the scouts.”
Understanding that the best way to keep scouts’ attention is through hands-on learning, engineers incorporated numerous creative activities into their lesson plans. Coy Webb used super soaker water guns to demonstrate the process and effects of water erosion while teaching the Environmental Science merit badge. Trent Tholen, Joe Gradney and Bob Cadow gave scouts an opportunity to dissect, rebuild and create electronics for the Engineering Merit Badge. The active approach not only kept classes engaged, but improved overall information retention and showed the fun side of engineering to the scouts.
Throughout the day, scouts completed or almost completed a total of 270 merit badges. Col. Bob Moriarty, USAF, SAME European Regional Vice President, commended the volunteer merit badge counselors and rewarded them with his Regional Vice President’s coin.“This was a tremendous community service activity and an outstanding promotion of engineering and core values in an effort to help build tomorrow’s engineers,” said Col. Moriarty.
Col. Parker added, “A tertiary benefit was the very obvious fact that the scouts were being supported by more than their parents and leaders, but also by non-scouters who demonstrated that scout values exist throughout our community."The Kaiserslautern Post hopes to participate in future Boy Scout Merit Badge University events as an ideal avenue to support the critical SAME outreach and mentoring mission. After all, the future of the engineering profession rests on the development of the next generation.