By Amber Kennedy

The Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab has partnered with SAP to join the software company's Young Thinkers program, positioning children for success in STEM. Last month, the partners celebrated the launch by hosting students from An Achievable Dream Academy for an evening of experimentation using SAP programs.

The Newport News-based lab, a collaboration between Newport News Shipbuilding, Old Dominion University and the city of Newport News, opened in 2019. The facility welcomes students of all ages, abilities and disciplines to learn skills by designing creative solutions to real-world problems.

"SAP's support for Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab will not only boost a love for learning," said Mia Joe, the lab's director, "it will also make a generational impact on workforce development by providing more access to specialized educational resources and more opportunity for children during early and impressionable developmental stages."

The alliance is an outgrowth of SAP Young Thinkers, a community for youth all over the world who are passionate about innovation and technology - and who want to influence the way the digital world will take shape. SAP works with colleagues, ambassadors and a global network of diverse institutions to provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice their skills every day.

At Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab, SAP's participation will lead to:

  • Integration of SAP Young Thinkers learning modules that encourage creative learning and social innovation.
  • Professionals from all participating organizations teaching workshops for K-12 and adult learners.
  • Increased collaboration on curriculum offerings and industry-led design thinking activities.

At the kickoff event, students used Snap!, a cloud-native programming environment used to introduce students to coding, to create a game that was presented to SAP executives.

"Meeting the instructor and the kids in this program was a powerful testament to the good that can be accomplished in our community," said Scott Thatcher, SAP regulated industries chief operating officer. "The night was energetic and engaging, and it was thrilling to see the kids so locked in."

This is only the beginning of the relationship between SAP and Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab, but Thatcher is eagerly anticipating the children's continued growth, whether it be in coding or social skills.

"It was incredible getting to meet the people directly involved in this initiative and to see those in the community show up and invest of themselves," he said. "This is going to have a real lifelong impact on these kids and their confidence, and I can't wait to watch it happen."

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