JROTC STEM Leadership Academy




Engineering Mobile’s Future Workforce

Teaching Essential Skills for Success in the fields of 

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics





Overview of the Academy

Photo of Camp Experience

The goal of the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy, a residential academy, is to expose and engage a unique population of Mobile high school students in STEM content, skills, and fields of study. The STEM Academy will give Cadets the opportunity to see STEM content and technology in action as they interact with scientists and engineers designing and innovating solutions to area industry and community problems. Cadets will observe first-hand the broad range of STEM-dependent jobs right here in Mobile and participate as part of a Cadet-team to create, test, and improve their own solutions to an STEM-focused engineering design challenge. The Academy will help groom these already successful JROTC cadets into future employees and contributors to the regional STEM workforce.

Susan Pruet, Ph.D President of StemWorks, LLC and her STEM Education Team design and coordinate a sequence of engaging STEM hands-on lab experiences. Cadet teams will compete in design challenges, participate in interactive tours and meet with mentors from area industry who will showcase STEM career opportunities in Mobile. Finally, cadets will meet with carefully selected regional leaders who will share their stories of how they succeeded in military, civic, and industry careers. 



  Removing Barriers to STEM Careers

Unlike many summer experiences, the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy provides this week-long residential camp at only $50 per cadet. Thus, this amazing opportunity is accessible by ALL 9th and 10th grade JROTC cadets.  To ensure this opportunity remains open to ALL Mobile area cadets, we need your support!

Sponsor a Cadet 


Be an Academy Friend 

Sponsorship of a Cadet is $1000. You can become an Academy Friend by making a tax-deductible contribution of any amount to MCPSS or the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. As a Sponsor or Academy Friend, you or your organization will become a recognized partner of the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy. Examples of recognition may include logos posted on the event website, banners, and promotional materials.



Click here to print the Sponsor form.

















To learn more about the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy click any of the links below:




Contact US:

LTC Robert F. Barrow   rfbarrow@mcpss.com or  251-221-5100

Dr. Susan Pruet    susan.stemworks@gmail.com


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2018 Academy- STEM in the Water

This year the Academy cadets will:

  • Research bouyancy, center of mass, and gear ratio to create an opperational underwater robot
  • Complete rigorous physical fitness exercises, e.g. rappelling and drown proofing
  • Visit local maritime and STEM industries 
  • Hear from special guest speakers including former cadets from our area
  • Develop teamwork and leadership skills


2017 Academy- STEM in the Air

We are eagerly anticipating the third JROTC STEM Leadership Academy June 21-26, again on the campus of Spring Hill College. This year, we are setting our sights on the sky with our theme of STEM in the Air and its focus on aerospace engineering. 

During this year’s Academy, cadets will:

  • Research the principles of flight to design different types of flying machines
  • Learn about land navigation and complete a wilderness navigation challenge
  • Complete rigorous physical fitness exercises, e.g. rappelling and drown proofing
  • Visit local aerospace and STEM industries in the Mobile area
  • Enjoy a flight demonstration from the RC Airplane enthusists, and 
  • Develop teamwork and leadership skills



We have also set an ambitious goal of raising enough funds to allow 160 cadets to participate in this residential educational experience: an increase in participation of 10%. We hope you will consider sponsoring one or more high school JROTC cadets or engaging your business making a donation to the Academy. 

                                                                             Become a 2017 Academy Sponsor!




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2016 Academy- STEM in the Field

The JROTC STEM Academy has a history of significantly and positively impacting the lives of 9th and 10th grade cadets. Dr. Julie Cwikla, Director of Creativity & Innovation in STEM at the University of Southern Mississippi, has evaluated the impact of the JROTC STEM Academy since the program’s inception in 2015. Results of 2016 Academy evaluation indicate cadets make significant gains in all five of the program’s focus areas- STEM Content Knowledge; Industry Field Experiences; Communication & Team Building; Learning from Failure; Leadership & Career Development.

Here are a few highlights from the post-Academy assessments:

  • Assessments of STEM content knowledge showed significant improvement in over 80% of the items.
  • In response to the statement, “Mathematics is useful in solving problems that improve people’s lives,” 89% of cadets selected “Important” or “Very Important.”
  • In response to the statement, “It is important for me to do well in math and science,” 97% of cadets selected “Agree” or “Strongly Agree.”
  • In response to the statement, “When challenges present themselves, I know failure is part of the path to success,” 98% of students selected “Agree” or “Strongly Agree.”


Dr. Cwikla shared some representative quotes from interviews with the Cadets and from their Reflection Journals:

  • The most valuable thing bout my week at STEM is how i got to see different jobs that have good pays and safety and different schools like South Alabama and … I think STEM is valuable to me and I hope to come again next year.
  • I believe the most valuable thing I learned was the power of team work and communication. We had to work together to get more ideas to find the best suit. And to do this we had to communicate.
  • Personally, the most important experience I have had here at the jrotc leadership stem academy, was learning to at least attempt learning and trying something I would have thought that I would dislike or have no interest in. I gave many things a try and realized that I could be successful in many different stem fields.


The JROTC STEM Academy has indeed helped shape a positive vision of the future for over 250 cadets – visions that include graduating eager and able to join Mobile’s STEM workforce! 


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2015 Academy- Crazy about Catapults

As a result of the residential STEM Academy that took place June 8-12, 2015 at Spring Hill College, Cadets increased their STEM content knowledge and 21st century skills as well as improved their attitudes and beliefs about STEM and their future in a STEM career. 


Here are a few highlights:

  • Assessments of STEM content knowledge showed significant improvement in over 80% of the items. 
  • Cadets were almost twice as likely to “strongly agree” with this statement following the Academy: I think if I work hard, I can succeed in a STEM career field.
  • And, in response to the question, There are a wide range of good paying jobs available here in Mobile that involve STEM, the Cadets responses shifted from pre-Academy, 12% replying “Strongly Agree”  to 70% post Academy.
  • The percentage of Cadets responding positively to “Mathematics is useful for solving problems that improve people’s lives” more than doubled pre to post!


Dr. Cwikla shared some representative quotes from interviews with the Cadets and from their Reflection Journals:

  • I know now …I will do dual enrollment for aircraft training.
  • I observed scientifically how chemicals are not supposed to mix with others and only certain ones can be used when out in water, and I observed mathematically how incorrect measurements and calculations create a disastrous situation with boats.
  • We have airplane engines made right here in Mobile!
  • Two things I learned today is that communication is key and everyone’s opinion is important.
  • What I will take away (from this week) is that it is all about teamwork.
  • When you have a failure, in life or in a design, you can always learn from it and build on it to make it better.



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History of the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy

The JROTC STEM Academy was modeled after the successful STEM-focused JROTC camp that has been sponsored for multiple years through a Department of Army grant in collaboration with the Mississippi State University (MSU).  After a small number of MCPSS cadets and Lt. Col. Frank Barrow, MCPSS JROTC director, participated in this MSU camp in 2013, Lt. Col Barrow secured support from the MSU camp director to design a similar STEM summer experience for high school cadets here in Mobile, using our local university campuses and industry partners.  Besides enabling more Mobile students to participate, having our own STEM Academy will connect students to our own post-secondary institutions and STEM-dependent industries. 


Le Flore Rattlers Attend MSU STEM Camp – C/MAJ Jacobie Fayne, contributing S-5 is C/CPT Oshia Davis

Our experience at STEM camp this summer was an enjoyable and an educational experience. The camp really helped us build awesome leadership and teamwork skills. We were able to build lasting friendships with the cadets from the various AJROTC programs that attended. It was very challenging for us to wake up at 5:45 am, but we were able to adjust quickly. The physical training along with yoga and Pilates was challenging, but it quickly whipped us into shape. STEM camp taught us the definition of the phrase “Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way”. In conclusion, I think the STEM camp experience was valuable, and I believe more cadets should attend. 



Citronelle Cadets Testimonial

Mississippi State University has hosted STEM camps for the last several summers.  Citronelle High School has been fortunate to be able to send students to participate for the last two years, most recently sending four highly motivated Cadets.  The STEM personnel are uniformly kind, warm, and friendly, resulting in an exceptional experience for our students.  The week was full of hands-on learning activities focusing on vectors and the forces  that vectors exert on bridges, planes, and other items.  What our students enjoyed the most were the advanced problem-solving skills and critical thinking demanded by the activities, examples of which involved not only building a bridge, but budgeting and resourcing its construction, with the goal being the cheapest bridge that held the most weight and constructing a rocket.

Being able to meet, live with, and work with peers from other schools provided our students with a necessary proof that there is a world outside of Citronelle – a world where are students are held responsible for themselves and a team, with no falling back on parents or others outside the small team for support.  While it was only a week-long program, LeaderSTATE was a highly-regimented program, with precise planning for every minute of the day.  Every day featured two or more guest speakers addressing a variety of topics, from additional education to specific job requirements.  

In addition to problem-solving, networking, and maturing, the students also participated in several tours of local businesses and Mississippi State, itself.   While the Mississippi State tour was fascinating, our students returned talking most about the visit to Universal Asset Management (UAM).  UAM sells, manages, leases, dissembles, and recycles a wide variety of commercial aviation assets for companies all over the world.    The size and volume of UAM’s worksite left quite the impression on our students – being able to see nearly a dozen full size commercial airplanes up close, and even touring one plane from Japan.  The plane tour proved a true bonus to our students, as most had never been on a plane before that day.

The LeaderSTATE program is an excellent one, and one our current corps of cadets look forward to participating in next summer.  Being forced to live on their own, attend to their own schedules, think for themselves, and solve real-world problems can only have a positive effect on our students.  Ideally, we are able to participate in this excellent program every summer.


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Academy Instructors 

The success of our JROTC STEM Academy resides in the quality of our STEM Instructors - their STEM content knowledge, how that content is applied in industry today, and effective instructional skills.


Two days of intense professional development prepare 8 Academy STEM Instructors (MCPSS Math/Science Teachers), 12 JROTC Cadre, and 10 Spring Hill College Students to lead the cadet teams in tackling the STEM Challenges where the cadets research, plan, create, test and improve, redesign and evaluate, and then communicate their solutions. The instructor professional development is designed and led by STEMWorks, LLC an organization with extensive STEM curriculum development and professional development experience that is coupled with a track record of success with K-12 STEM initiatives. 


As public school teachers, the Academy STEM Instructors take away not only valuable knowledge about how their STEM content is applied and integrated to solve challenges found in industry, but also the efficacy of more student-centered instructional strategies they can apply during the school year. Results from surveys of the instructional staff from the two previous JROTC STEM Academies reveal that they consider the scientific content applied during the Academies to be excellent and above that of other summer STEM opportunities they have experienced.





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 JROTC STEM Leadership Academy Advisory Board

Members of the Advisory Board volunteer their time and expertise to help inform the experiences of each summer Academy. Additionally, Advisory Board members serve as advocates for the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy. As a result of their input and leadership, we have engaged over 250 high school students since 2015. Below is a list of members in alphabetical order. 


Thank you for your service!


AH Environmental Consultants, Inc. – COL (Ret) Robert Keyser

Airbus:  Ms. Michelle Hurdle

AkerSolutions – Ms. Kim Dowell; Mr. James Altieri

Alabama Port Authority:  Ms. Judith Adams, Ms. Sheri Reid, Mr. Jimmy Orum

Alabama Power:  Ms. Jill Stork, Ms. Elizabeth Thomas; Ms. Stacy Simmons

Alabama State Department Board of Education – Mary Scott Hunter

Alabama Technology Network:  Mr. Byron Dunn

Austal:  Ms. Sandra Koblas, Mr. Napoleon Bracy, Mr. Ryan Lee

BAE:  Ms. Juliette Locke, Mr. Adam Hamlin

Books A Million – Mr. Alex Perez; Mr. Ryan Dunnam

CertaPro Painters: Col (Ret) Steven Carey

City of Mobile (Honorary Chairman of STEM Academy Advisory Team) – Mayor Sandy Stimpson;

Continental Motors – Ms. Shaine Little; Mr. Scott Earheart; Mr. Bill Haub; Ms. Valarie Simone

Dauphin Island Sea Lab – Ms. Mendel Graeber; Ms. Beth Klein

EVONIK Industries – Mr. Randy Rogers; BG (Ret) Steve Duff

Hargrove Engineering & Construction: Mr. John O’Rourke

J.L. Bedsole Foundation:  Mr. Christopher Lee

Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce: Ms. Emily McGrath, Mr. Joseph Mareno

Mobile Area Education Foundation:   Ms. Carolyn Akers, Ms. Jabaria Jenkins

Mobile County Commissioners: District 1 - Ms. Merceria L. Ludgood; District 2 - Connie Hudson; District 3 - Mr. Jerry Carl; Administrative Office - Ms. Kelle Scheuing

Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS):  Ms. Martha Peek, Mr. Larry Mouton, LTC (Ret) Robert F. Barrow

NAI Mobile, Industrial Consultants – CDR (Ret) Pete Riehm

National Flight Academy – CAPT (Ret) George Krietemeyer, Ms. Cassie Redmyer

Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) – Mr. Michael Thompson, Ms. Angela Nocera

Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC):  Lee Lawson, Ms. Laura Davis Chandler

Spring Hill College:  Ms. Sharon Williams, Ms. Tara Jones, Ms. Patricia Davis

SSAB Steel Mill – Mr. Greg Scott

STEMWorks, LLC:  Dr. Susan Pruet

United States Coast Guard (Aviation Training Center) – CAPT Thomas MacDonald; LT Jacob Scritchfield

United States Coast Guard (Sector Mobile) – CAPT Joseph Snowden; LT Mathew Mackillop; ENS Alex Gomez

University of South Alabama:  Dr. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Dr. Keith Nichols, Dr. John Steadman

University of Southern Mississippi:  Dr. Julie Cwikla

W&T Offshore (Yellow Hammer Processing Plant) – Ms. Leigh Buffkin; Mr. Eddie Lee; Mr. Terry Wilson

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Friends & Sponsors of the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy 

The annual JROTC STEM Leadership Academy would not be possible without the generous support of our many partners.


Thank you 2015, 2016, & 2017 Friends and Sponsors!

2017 Academy Sponsors 2016 Academy Sponsors 2015 Academy Sponsors


Mobile County Commissioners

J.L. Bedsole Foundation

City of Mobile Fire Department

Alabama Power


BAE Systems

Military Order of the Purple Hearts

Federal Programs


Sponsor a Cadet 


Be an Academy Friend 




Click here to print the Sponsor form.



 BAE Systems has donated safety helmets three years in a row! Thank you!


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Contact US:

LTC Robert F. Barrow  at rfbarrow@mcpss.com or  251-221-5100

Dr. Susan Pruet    susan.stemworks@gmail.com


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