The ARRL and Amateur Radio were well represented April 15-17 at the 4thBiennial 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. Scientists, engineers, educators, and students attended the premier science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) event, where major academic learning centers and research institutes joined forces with corporate partners and government agencies to bring the excitement of leading-edge learning, fun, and discovery to communities.
“Amateur Radio volunteers from the ARRL Maryland-DC Section assisting at the ARRL booth — graciously funded by Lee Ciereszko, N4TCW — were joined by ARRL Headquarters staff, and Atlantic Division leadership,” said Maryland-DC (MDC) Section Manager Marty Pittinger, KB3MXM. “We had the pleasure of meeting numerous visiting hams from across the country and around the world. It was a privilege to share in this opportunity to network with many educators, corporate executives, military and local civic groups – and to share with them with the multi-faceted role that ARRL plays in STEM.”
Pittinger said the massive DC Convention Center was completely filled with STEM-related organizations from across the country, many offering hands-on demonstrations. Estimates put the number of visitors at more than 365,000, and the ARRL MDC Section booth staff greeted approximately 4000 eager and enthusiastic visitors during the 3-day event, Pittinger said. “We demonstrated Lenz’ Law with copper-pipe and neodymium magnets; MESH networks; Morse code, and emergency communications,” he recounted. “We also offered information about the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology, part of the educational STEM outreach by the ARRL to schools through its Education & Technology Program (ETP).” ARRL Education Services Manager Debra Johnson, K1DMJ, was on hand to talk about the Teachers Institute and answer questions.
Elsewhere at the Festival, Amateur Radio was also represented at the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) exhibit, located in the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space’s “Space Station Explorers” exhibit — part of NASA’s presence. ARISS team members, including Johnson, and Rosalie White, K1STO, of ARRL; ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, and AMSAT’s ARISS representative Dave Taylor, W8AAS, were on hand to tell the ARISS story. They also served as hosts for a Saturday afternoon ARISS contact with ISS crew member Tim Peake, KG5BVI, and members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, DC.
“We met with government representatives, US military and their families, home-schooled children and their parents, college professors, and corporate executives from companies all over the world,” Pittinger said. “We often heard, ‘So Amateur Radio is still around? That’s good.’” Pittinger said some visitors shared their experiences of how Amateur Radio had played a significant role in their or their families’ welfare after a disaster had struck.
“It took so much to pull this off — many e-mails, phone calls, planning meetings, shipping, and carrying display items by hand during multiple trips on the DC Metro,” Pittinger said of his Section’s role in the event. “We are very tired after over 36 hours on the floor, but extremely pleased by the outcome. It is true again: ‘Hams Do That Too!’” — Thanks to MDC SM Marty Pittinger, KB3MXM