“Twenty years from now, we will be viewed as the leaders in this new frontier of cyber.”

That was the view of Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, to a roomful of what he called “cyber pioneers” at a recent Fort Meade Alliance (FMA) luncheon.

For Maryland, that idea not only presents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth, but it offers businesses a chance to be a part of a defining mission for the country. However, private industry needs to focus on creating a skilled, talented workforce to continue to make the nation thrive.

The FMA has been a leader for more than a decade in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools and in workforce development efforts. Its Tech Mania program, which has reached approximately 2,500 students since its creation, provides ninth grade students from area high schools with a morning full of hands-on experiences to get them excited about the possibilities in future STEM-related fields. The FMA also hosts an annual STEM Family Night to get elementary and middle school students excited about STEM-related fields.

The FMA is also working with Growth Sector, a workforce development organization based in Silicon Valley, to develop its STEM Core model in Maryland. Partnering with the Community College of Baltimore County and Anne Arundel Community College, with funding from Georgetown University, the program provides an accelerated math program tied with internship opportunities. In California, the program has succeeded in retaining 60% of students who enter remedial math, compared to a 4% retention previously. This is a way for students to remain on the path to STEM competency — a vital need for the nation’s future workforce.

The FMA is also helping members of the military who are transitioning back into civilian life. Maryland has the second highest unemployment rate for former Army service members in the nation. This summer, in partnership with Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. (AAWDC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring our Heroes program, the FMA will support their veteran fellowship grant and will help AAWDC develop the program to aid transitioning soldiers out of the Army and into needed positions in Maryland.

The military and military families are important to the region, and efforts to define and identify the services available to them in and around Fort Meade have been ongoing for years.

The FMA’s biggest effort to date is the establishment of Fort Meade Resiliency Campus, which will provide expanded services for the five areas of resiliency: physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual. In partnership with the FMA Foundation, it is beginning a $3.6 million capital campaign to renovate Kuhn Hall on Fort Meade. This renovated building will become the Fort Meade Resiliency & Education Center.

In addition to the full slate of activities related to education, workforce development, the military and their families, the FMA has brought important leaders in front of its members, from Ruppersberger and Northrop Grumman Corp. CEO Wes Bush, to Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Gill, the Commission on Maryland Competitiveness Chair Norm Augustine, and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, to procurement leaders Douglas Packard from DISA and Lise Mangerie from the National Security Agency.

It will wrap up its year with its Annual Meeting on June 15 at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center. For more information about the Fort Meade Alliance, visit www.ftmeadalliance.org.