Perspecta President and CEO Mac Curtis welcomed the freshmen for the Innovation Challenge. “You have a tough and exciting challenge ahead of you,” he said. “We can’t wait to see what you come up with!” Image: Perspecta

Early December, Perspecta’s Chantilly, Virginia, headquarters buzzed with ninth-graders as the company hosted the Academies of Loudoun’s Innovation Challenge kickoff.
Seventy-five students had gathered in the theater to learn more about Perspecta and how it serves its customers and the nation through innovation and dedication to mission. Perspecta executives Mac Curtis, president and CEO; Tammy Heller, chief human resources officer; and Mike Kirkland, senior vice president of offerings and solution development, shared their passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and encouraged students to make the most of their time at the new, state-of-the-art STEM specialty school that opened in August.
The Academies of Loudoun provides a learning environment focused on STEM disciplines to empower students to explore, research, collaborate, innovate and make meaningful contributions to the world.
The Innovation Challenge gave students the opportunity to work with their classmates on innovative ideas by using STEM to solve a complex challenge question about natural disasters.
For instance, which solutions can be created to give first responders, federal and local agencies better information about natural disasters that affect populations — allowing them to evacuate sooner and minimize deaths and injury? Or how can the people at risk be identified quicker, more comprehensively and be alerted in a timely manner?
Perspecta professionals will serve as the students’ mentors over the next few months. Each mentor will be paired with a small group of students to help bolster their problem-solving skills to develop a successful answer. When the challenge ends in May, students will present their answers to the challenge question before a panel of judges, and they will be evaluated on their solution.