Dr. Vincent Adams, site director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2012 Ohio School Boards Association President’s Award. Dr. Adams is being honored for his stellar contribution to Ohio education, including his leadership with the initiation and conduct of the annual Science Alliance, a science fair that draws about 900 high school students and educators to the plant each year.
Since 1980, the OSBA president has delivered the President’s Award to an individual who has exhibited dedicated leadership to Ohio education.
The science fair event, among the largest public outreach efforts within the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM), is geared toward topics related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). With interactive demonstrations and a site tour, the event provides students with first-hand information on site activities and career opportunities related to those fields of study.
“I am humbled by this recognition from the Ohio School Boards Association. Although I am the one who will receive this award, it goes without saying that the success of this event would not be possible without the full backing of DOE, and the tremendous work of the Portsmouth employees and the educators and students who participate,” Dr. Adams said. “We are extraordinarily proud of this event and we are grateful that the OSBA has recognized our work that is aimed at helping the young people of this region, to bring about a bright future not only for themselves, but for our nation’s competitiveness through future generations.”
Representatives from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and regional universities join DOE prime contractors (Fluor-B&W Portsmouth, Restoration Services, Inc., Wastren-EnergX Mission Support, United States Enrichment Corporation, B&W Conversion Services) in operating the demonstration areas. Those activities include groundwater monitoring, understanding the nuclear fuel cycle, recycling, and many others. The Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board also educated students on its role and activities.
OSBA President Sharon Manson said the Science Alliance is a clear example of how STEM-related subjects can be explored and explained to students in a way that fosters their engagement.
“As far as I know, we have not had anything like this in the southeast region of the state of Ohio. To my knowledge, there has been nothing of this caliber,” said Manson, who will present Dr. Adams the award on Monday, November 12, 2012, at the organization’s Capital Conference in Columbus. “We appreciate Dr. Adams’ vision. It is clear he has an understanding of how important education is and he’s putting what he believes into action.”
The Science Alliance is part of the Portsmouth site’s participation in DOE’s initiatives aimed at boosting students’ interests in STEM-related subjects when making career choices. The Portsmouth site also awards more than 30 scholarships and internships annually to students interested in those fields of study as part of this effort by the Department of Energy.
Additionally, students from regional high schools participate in a program whereby they work with Ohio University to produce a summary of the site’s Annual Site Environmental Report (ASER). The ASER program not only allows students to familiarize themselves with plant operations, but also gives them substantial insight and education on the many technical issues and challenges that face the site and the paths to solutions.
“We take our community outreach activities very seriously and we sincerely believe (the Science Alliance) can broaden horizons for young people who participate,” said Dr. Adams, who also makes routine speaking appearances at regional high schools and universities. “We believe the Science Alliance has the potential to change lives and we look forward to working with educators and students in the future.”
The Ohio School Boards Association is in its 53rd year of service to public education and represents the state’s public school board members. The OSBA is composed of 718 school boards and their 3,395 elected board members represent Ohio’s local, city, exempted village, career center and educational service center districts.