Inspiration can come from many places. For Jacoby Smith, the inspiration came in the form of a computer course and a discovered talent for teaching. He followed his innate passion for science and math into a career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) and became involved in inspiring young minds to explore STEM fields.
Smith has always shown immense respect for the teaching profession, in part because his mother was a schoolteacher. “When I was in school, I had wonderful teachers who really motivated and encouraged me to pursue my interests in science and math,” Smith said. “I only had one computer class, but I really enjoyed learning all the key concepts and applications.”
Smith understands the importance and impact of STEM-related fields in real-world endeavours. As a software developer and scientist for Dahlgren’s Strategic and Information Systems Department, he supports the Tomahawk Tactical Weapons Control System program by developing new system capabilities, maintaining system operations, analyzing data from the fleet and providing solution-based processes. “I write and test code, investigate and fix bugs, and help plan future features for the Missile Manager component of the Tomahawk program,” Smith said. He is also part of a departmental team that oversees new hires and interns, helping to acclimate them to the dynamic and technical work environment of the Dahlgren workforce.
When school administrators presented the opportunity to virtually teach an advanced computer science course to students at Stafford High School, Smith knew it was a chance to give back to his community and agreed to share his thoughts. technical knowledge, experience and skills with the 25 to 30 students in the upper class. . “As a native of Fredericksburg, I attended Stafford County Public Schools, and it was a great way to get involved in STEM programs and help students explore more of the core concepts of science. ‘computing,” Smith said.
While attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Smith worked as a teaching assistant, teaching college courses related to computer science. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics in 2020, joining the NSWCDD workforce soon after. With encouragement and support from department and branch leadership, Smith began teaching computer science at Stafford High School, devoting countless hours to creating and integrating an accelerated curriculum for these students.
In addition to performing his duties as a software developer and scientist, Smith also thrived on providing top quality education to his students. Although the class attended virtually due to COVID-19 protocol, Smith ensured student preparation for exams. “I embarked on this project without any predefined lesson plans or lesson studies, but managed to develop my curriculum that I knew would cover all the key concepts,” Smith said. “It was important for me to provide these students with the technical knowledge necessary to progress in computer science.”
Although Smith no longer teaches computer science classes for local school districts, he remains involved by acting as a consultant in the development of science and math curricula. NSWCDD command and senior leadership selected Smith as one of seven Distinguished Community recipients
Service Award for his contributions, effort, and dedication to providing computer science education and collaborating with local school officials to advance STEM initiatives.