Thanks to the help of civil engineering major Janie Locklear, a new generation of engineers may have gotten their first taste of the future. James Locklear III, (eighth-grade) Johnnie Locklear III, (ninth-grade) and Rhado Locklear, (seventh grade) students at Pembroke Middle and St. Pauls High School plan to follow in their cousin’s footstep.

A junior civil engineering major at North Carolina A&T, Janie Locklear introduced the teens to engineering last spring. While preparing for a local science fair the students were invited to campus to work on their science projects in the civil engineering department’s structural and construction materials lab with the assistance of department chair Dr. Sameer Hamoush and Dr. Choi.

This past March, the three students traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico to compete in the National American Indian Science and Engineering Fair (NAISEF) at the Albuquerque Convention Center. James and Johnnie Locklear won first place in their categories and Rhado Locklear placed second. The student travel was funded by a grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Indian Education Title VII Program through Robeson County Public Schools. 

Locklear who traveled with the students says she hopes this opportunity will inspire their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  “My goal is to help provide educational experiences for native Americans in my community who might not otherwise have this opportunity.”

Held annually, NAISEF provides an opportunity for students to actively participate in a science-based learning environment and create science projects and conduct scientific research that can be shared with peers, educators, and other Native role models. Students and educators come from across the United States, representing hundreds of tribal nations to participate in this prestigious event. NAISEF serves American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in grades 5-12.