August 4, 2021 – (Orlando, FL) – Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS) hosted nine Elevation Scholars on a STEM-focused tour July 29, 2021. The group was small, but they packed a big punch. Even before the tour started, early arriving students were full of questions and thoughts as they talked amongst themselves wondering what the next big technology would be. ECS bystanders wondered which of these brilliant students would bring these discoveries.

As the students assembled in the conference room, ECS Chief Operating Officer, Mick Golson, greeted them and spoke of his admiration for them and the Elevation Scholars program.

“I grew up in Selma, Alabama,” he said, “when programs such as this did not exist.” He recounted some of his personal journey by describing what he and his parents did to get him into the ‘smart’ class in the second grade. From then on, he was a straight-A student. After a football injury at Auburn, he joined the Air Force, and during that time pursued his educational goals. It was important to Golson that these nine students understood that this program, along with their hard work in school, will open doors for them; that they are incredibly talented and that whatever their dreams may be, they can achieve them if they believe in themselves.

“I once told my dad how tough my education was,” Golson said. “He asked me if anyone else could do it, and I responded yes. He replied that if others can do it, so can you. Everything you do is about what you think of yourself. If you believe in yourself, you can do it.”

The students were then broken into smaller groups of three. One of the first stops for Carl Pierre, a rising senior at Evans High School, was in the Haptics Lab. When ECS computer engineer, Jonathan Ramos, asked if the group knew the difference between Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Pierre said yes, and he proceeded to give a concise description.

“Augmented Reality adds to the real world, where Virtual Reality is an entirely different world,” he said. Pierre is his class Vice President and ranks fourth in a class of 650. He hopes to attend Carnegie Mellon and major in Civil Engineering.

Ernsley Francois, who graduated from Evans High School in May, asked if the programs being shown were like commercial game development. Ramos responded that the programs are similar but, in these programs, they are “serious” games, with instructional design, computer programming, and art all being key to the designs for training.

Francois followed up with additional questions about how emotions and physiological reactions are tracked and used in serious games. He will begin at Wake Forest University on a full scholarship this month and plans on majoring in Computer Science.

ECS engineers and presenters were also motivated as they interacted with the students. When asked his thoughts about the students, Ramos said, “The best reactions were from those students not already in the technology field. They were giddy with anticipation, and it was motivational to see that amount of excitement.”

As part of their Horizon Event Program, the Elevation Scholars initiative is used to engage high school scholars regarding various career paths and to introduce them as local developing talent to top Central Florida firms, such as ECS. These events are meant to be hands-on and interactive for both the students and local companies.

Scott Lee, president of Elevation Scholars, adds: “We are having great success in the college admissions process for our high-performing students, with students already attending Stanford, Duke, Harvard, Cornell, Wake Forest, University of Florida and other top universities. The next goal for our program is to build relationships with local companies with the purpose of ensuring these home-grown superstar students are matched with Central Florida’s top employers, such as ECS. Our students want to be in high-tech careers, but most have never actually had the opportunity to visit a firm like ECS, and the projects they learned about along with the conversations that occurred will be invaluable in helping these students access rewarding careers. With this level of community support, our students have great power to change their communities for the better!”

Teresa Sewell, ECS Vice President of Corporate Operations, organized the tour. She applauded Elevation Scholars, noting that it will open doors for these and other students.

“It is inspiring to talk to these highly motivated students,” she said. “It will be great to see where these students go. Perhaps we will see some come back to ECS for internships in the future.”

About Elevation Scholars

Elevation Scholars, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization that invests in high-achieving students from high-need families who have demonstrated an ability to impact schools and community. Their goal is to increase their college access and ensure successful completion of a college degree from the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities. Despite facing challenges that others can only imagine, Elevation Scholars’ students excel in character and academics. The program develops personal relationships with the students by exposing them to new career possibilities, guiding them through the demanding college admissions process, and providing resources and support during their college journey.