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Schriever Sentinel

AFRS FIRST visit propels STEM opportunities

U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt Staff Sgt. Charles Osbourne, 50th Space Communications Squadron, discusses network security with teachers (L-R) Naomi Edwards, Charlene Getz, and Darcie Starkfregoe during an Air Force Recruiting Service sponsored visit here, Aug. 5, 2014. The visit allowed tens of FIRST educators from across the nation to highlight the many STEM opportunities within the Air Force.

U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt
Staff Sgt. Charles Osbourne, 50th Space Communications Squadron, discusses network security with teachers (L-R) Naomi Edwards, Charlene Getz, and Darcie Starkfregoe during an Air Force Recruiting Service sponsored visit here, Aug. 5, 2014. The visit allowed tens of FIRST educators from across the nation to highlight the many STEM opportunities within the Air Force.

By Jennifer Thibault

50th Space Wing Public Affairs

Schriever Air Force Base cyber and space professionals hosted 24 science and technology educators from across the nation Aug. 5, as part of the Air Force’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused outreach efforts.

The Air Force Recruiting Service continued their now three-year collaboration with the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition and Tech Challenge Mentors with the visit to Colorado that included the U.S. Air Force Academy and Schriever.

During the FIRST mentors visit to Schriever, professionals here demonstrated how Airmen apply technology in their precision, navigation and timing and military satellite communication operations in addition to cyber applications at the base and around the world.

“This was an excellent opportunity to see where work skills are needed,” said Susan Hay, FIRST mentor in New Hampshire.

Another was impressed by the extensive AF training regimen.

“We saw an aerospace engineer and a historian working side by side [in technology fields], it’s a testament to the broad skills the Air Force offers,” said Wiley Meade, FIRST mentor in Missouri.

One mentor who had previously served with the Air Force was excited to see the advancements.

“I served with the Air Force for 20 years, 25 years ago and it was exciting to see how the research we conducted then served as the road markers the highway has become today,” said Scott Watson, FIRST mentor in Utah.

These notions are the very ones AFRS officials hoped to achieve with their outreach effort.

“We do this for several reasons,” said Col. Marcus Johnson, Chief of Strategic Marketing. “We aim to educate mentors on how we grow leaders in the Air Force, expose them to our Airmen as they execute their critical missions as it relates to STEM and ideally see connections between the students they mentor and coach and the opportunities we have in the Air Force.”

Serving as the wing’s host, Col. E. Marcus Caughey, 50th Space Wing vice commander, joked with the group of FIRST robotic competition mentors and coaches that rocket science really does happen here as they toured 2nd, 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons operating spaces. The group also engaged in hands-on simulated cyber operations with several members of the 50th Space Communications Squadron.

“We targeted Schriever this year because we think it’s an excellent opportunity to showcase our Airmen and our amazing space capabilities,” said Johnson. “We think showing these teachers Air Force capabilities and missions and highlighting the fact that our Airmen have excellent career opportunities and world-class training to prepare them for these responsibilities will make the connection between their current FIRST efforts and future opportunities for their students.”

Schriever’s orientation followed a day and a half at the Academy where the mentors engaged in character and leadership development seminars as well as with the school’s mechanical and aerospace engineering labs.

“This was great,” said Meade. “We got to see the academic portion earlier today and now we get to see how the Air Force applies that training and education.”

To wrap up the visit and the group’s Air Force orientation, Johnson presented each mentor with a certificate of completion.

“I know this says completion, but it’s just the beginning,” said Johnson, referencing the intent for the mentors to return to their students and enlighten them on the many STEM opportunities they saw during the visits.

“It was enlightening to see such dedicated and diverse groups of men and women protecting our country, said Beth Leavitt, FIRST mentor in South Carolina, as they departed the base.

FIRST is a nonprofit that was founded in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. To learn more about FIRST or Air Force Recruiting efforts go to www.usfirst.org or www.airforce.com respectively.

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