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Editor's note: this article was originally posted on Sandia National Laboratories' website.

About 45 Gallup, New Mexico, high school juniors and seniors took in a little shake, rattle and roll at Sandia’s Environmental Test and Evaluation Complex during a special March 4 STEM Day event organized just for them.

After a morning of high-impact experiences showcasing arms control and terrorism monitoring equipment at Sandia’s Training and Technology Demonstration Area, an animated cluster of students filed into the testing complex to witness how materials perform in a vibration lab, shock lab, climate lab and more.

“STEM Day at the Labs introduces high school students to the work at Sandia as they consider career paths,” said Amy Tapia, manager of the Labs’ Community Involvement team. “This unique partnership between Sandia Community Involvement, recruiting and our American Indian Outreach Committee did more than ‘wow’ them with demonstrations. Our employees at every level from engineer to technician related personal stories of how they became a part of Sandia.”

March 4 STEM Day at Sandia National Laboratories brought in 45 students to the Lab.
March 4 STEM Day at Sandia National Laboratories brought in 45 students to the Lab.
Sandia National Laboratories

Carrie Lovato, director of College and Career Readiness for Gallup McKinley County School District, described the day as “super impactful.”

“The kids got to see and hear about an exciting variety of STEM jobs at the Labs, including many that don’t require an engineering degree,” she said. “Most think a job at Sandia is out of reach. They learned today firsthand that people just like them, from communities just like theirs, have great careers at the Labs.”

Mariana Vega, a Gallup High School senior, has been accepted to New Mexico State University and is considering a career in civil engineering. “Everything we’re seeing today at the Labs is really fascinating,” she said. “What’s my dream job? I’m not sure, and that’s why today has been so great for me. I feel one step closer to knowing what I really want to do.”