Air Tigers Robotics Team #8197 is a rookie team from Prince George’s County’s Duval High School. They will be mentored by staff from MASER, Inc. (Mentors Advancing STEAM Education), a local nonprofit organization that recruits local government engineers, mathematicians, and scientists to volunteer their time for STEAM education in and beyond the classroom.
Mr. Kwaku Dompreh is the faculty sponsor at Duval
About DuVal High School
DuVal High School is a comprehensive science and technology magnet high school in Lanham, Maryland. About 93% of its students are in minority groups, and 45% of its students are female. DuVal High School is the home of the Academy of Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Technology (AEAT). AEAT began as part of an ongoing effort by Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) to prepare students for postsecondary success and expose them to STEM-related career fields. Five-and-a-half years later, the program remains a critically important component of the county’s Secondary School Reform initiative. A brochure describing its curriculum can be found here.
The activities of Air Tigers are housed in a room attached to the Wagner gymnasium on Good Luck Road in Lanham. A new building is being constructed to house the AEAT and should be completed in time for the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year. A recent article about the academy appeared in the PG Sentinel and can be accessed here.
MASER, Inc. was founded in 2019, but the staff and many of the mentors have been serving previously in various locations around DC and the Maryland suburbs for many years. Along with its partners in local chapters of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Sigma Xi, the Washington Academy of Sciences and the DC Council of Engineering Societies (DCCEAS), MASER mentors established the Junior Academy of the Washington Academy of Sciences after WWII. These efforts impacted more than 20,000 students so far. In the 1970s MASER mentors supported the formation of SEAP (Science and Engineering Apprentice Program) at the Washington Academy of Sciences. MASER staff have mentored over twenty annual FIRST Robotics Teams. Some have teams won national level competitions. Many of the students have now been graduated and are employed in technical positions in the federal workforce.
MASER mentors abide by the principles for ethical mentoring of students based on traditions established since WWI, and all mentors are vetted and fingerprinted by the Prince Georges County government. MASER Inc. has Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the University of Maryland and Capitol Technology University that establish a working partnership with their students to participate in mentoring programs on computer science and engineering.
MASER, Inc. was founded by Dr. Vijay Kowtha, a strong and visible leader in the support and encouragement of young people in engineering, and specifically in formulating areas of responsive research. He was a leader in STEM education endeavor long before it became a national acronym, and his accomplishments stand as a foundation to the quest in the promotion of STEM since 1980s in the inner cities.
Dr. Kowtha has organized STEAM events promoting basic research at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, US Navy, Sea and Air Exposition and at Sigma Xi annual research meetings. His efforts resulted in responsive research and workforce development. Dr. Kowtha also mentored high school students in First Robotics competitions for two decades, teams won national level competitions and many students have graduated and are now gainfully employed in federal workforce. He has also been active with Sigma Xi, the Physics Honor Society, and has served as a judge in interdisciplinary science panels for the Washington Academy of Sciences for over twenty years.
Dr. Kowtha has degrees in Applied Mathematics and Electrical Engineering from Courant Institute/NYU Tandon School of Engineering and Rutgers University.
Staff of Mentors
Air Tigers students are mentored by a dedicated team of volunteer scientists and engineers who are part of a team organized by MASER, Inc. They are drawn upon from the many local STEM-related organizations. In addition to some leading universities, the DC area hosts several institutions that treat specialized branches of science. This includes, first of all, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- the presence of which partly accounts for the growing number of other medical research companies in our area. We have major government labs, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We have the Office of Science of the Department of Energy, and we have the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We have the National Aviation and Space Administration, Goddard (NASA) and the Applied Physics Lab of Johns Hopkins University. On the military side we have two major Naval facilities, Naval Research Lab and the Naval Surface Warfare Center (Carderock). We have the Army Research Laboratory, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Fort Detrick in Frederick. We also have the nation's cryptographic installations around Fort Meade and the National Security Agency (NSA). And many more. MASER invites any and all the employees of these organizations to serve as mentors.