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Top Navy Official to Visit Michele Clark High School Thursday

By Benjamin Woodard | September 6, 2013 6:24am | Updated on September 10, 2013 1:53pm
 Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in 2011 with sailors in California.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in 2011 with sailors in California.
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Getty Images/Ezra Shaw

EDGEWATER — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus plans to visit Michele Clark High School in Austin at 2 p.m. Thursday, a Navy spokeswoman confirmed.

The secretary had originally intended to visit Rickover Naval Academy in Edgewater to tour the campus and check up on progress made after a portion of a $2 million grant to expand science education was awarded to the school earlier this year, officials said.

The spokeswoman said there was a change of plans Monday.

Commandant Mike Tooker, an administrator at Rickover, said 60 students have participated in the school's new "eye-opener" programming that encourages students to study science technology.

This summer, the students built water-based robots and operated them in the school's pool.

"Within the next 10 years, 50 percent of the Navy's scientists are going to be going into retirement," said Tooker, making programs like Rickover's all the more important.

So, in an effort to recruit young scientists, the Navy awarded a five-year, $2 million grant to Rickover and five other schools specializing in science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM.

Rickover has a $90,000 annual budget from the Navy's grant, said Tooker.

He said new batches of students would be recruited into the program each year. Summer camps, visits to Navy facilities and even paid internships, funded by the Navy, would be offered to seniors.

The school also hopes to partner with Northwestern University's nanotechnology lab and Boeing's satellite communication program.