About 30 local high school students got up close and personal with some of the tools San Diego's FBI uses to keep the public safe.
"This is awesome. It shows you so much. I didn't even know half of this stuff," San Diego High School student Elisabeth Gill-Melendez said.
Gill-Melendez applied for the FBI Teen Academy because she wants to be an agent. The academy is designed to give students an insider's look into criminal and cyber investigations.
On Wednesday, Gill-Melendez and other students got a chance to climb inside the FBI's SWAT vehicle and put on the gear to get a feel for what it's like.
Dusting for fingerprints is key in gathering evidence, and the students learned the best techniques for how agents track down criminals.
FBI agents say ultimately, the most important message they hope the program teaches teens is: "You have to make good choices in life; stay in school, study hard, stay away from drugs, all of those things," FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said.
Gill-Melendez, who will be a junior this fall, said she's preparing now to serve her community as a member of one of the top law enforcement agencies in the nation.
"I look up to them; they're just like heroes, they're always helping people and I admire that the most about them," Gill-Melendez said.