HomeNewsArticle Display

Academy plays central role in developing tomorrow’s STEM leaders

An Air Force Academy cadet works on an engineering project. The Academy has a large number of research relationships with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and industry leaders that exposes cadets to real-world technical problems.

A U.S. Air Force Academy cadet works on an engineering project. The Academy has a large number of research relationships with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and industry leaders that exposes cadets to real-world technical problems. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) --

A recent article in Forbes noted the highest percentage of people in leadership positions with science, technology, engineering and math degrees and control huge organization aren’t CEOs, which might be who the reader might expect -- it’s four-star generals in the military.

Devin Cate, the director of the Air Force’s Test and Evaluation directorate, said that trend is likely to continue as leaders at all levels of the military prepare for a complex 21st century battlespace.

“We need to create a community of young engineers and scientists focused on cybersecurity, energy delivery and electronic communications,” Cate said. “Airmen will have to be comfortable operating advanced weapon systems or working in a command and control center, and they will need that strong technical background.”

Cate graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1983, where he majored in physics. He completed his Master of Science degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Washington, and went on to serve in the test community after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.

He said his STEM background opened doors throughout his 26-year career in the Air Force but more than that – it helped him develop a problem-solving mindset that served him in leadership roles.

“Coming from a technical background changes the way you think,” he said. “And it helps you not only on those technical issues but in management, policy and other leadership arenas.”

Per the article, many of the senior ranking military officers with STEM degrees graduated from one of the service academies, highlighting the role these institutions play in producing innovative leaders.

Cadets at the Air Force Academy today are immersed in hands-on STEM programs while also exposed to a broad education in the humanities and non-technical disciplines. All cadets take at least two-thirds of their coursework in a cross-disciplinary core and almost half of all their courses are in STEM fields.

“I like to think that our STEM programs are amplified by a great core curriculum that weaves together the structured thinking you associate with science and engineering with the critical thinking and insights that happen as a result of studying arts and humanities,” said Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, dean of faculty. “The intersection of these disciplines is where we see creativity and innovation really peak.”

The Academy has a large number of research relationships with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and industry leaders that exposes cadets to real-world technical problems. In one recent example, cadets were challenged to consider how unmanned aerial vehicle swarms could be controlled autonomously to wage battle against other swarms.

“It was an exciting opportunity for the cadets to get involved not just in the design and build phase of the problem, but also in how to manage such a project,” he said. “It allowed them to bring all the pieces together to exercise some extraordinary critical thinking skills.”

As the Academy looks to attract future STEM talent to the Academy and service in the Air Force, it has recently piloted a new recruiting program similar in many ways to how it recruits for intercollegiate athletes.

“There will be a call for people who are at the cutting edge of emerging fields and I believe the Academy, even though we are only an undergraduate institution, can play an important role in catalyzing interest levels in our graduates so they go on to graduate school and continue advanced studies in these fields,” Armacost said.

The Academy is currently developing a potential major and minor program in data science. The courses would better prepare its graduates to leverage vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence on modern battlefields.

“The Air Force Academy is constantly innovating and reinventing itself to meet the defense needs of the United States,” he said. “Our emerging programs in data science, in conjunction with our existing STEM focus, supports the National Defense Strategy and ensures that tomorrow’s officers have the education needed to defend our country.”

Engage

Twitter
Whistleblowers are NOT insider threats. Learn the difference and how you can appropriately report questionable gove… https://t.co/AaTvBfHcTv
Twitter
SrA Denise Arabie, 319th Operations Support Squadron radar approach controller @319thRW, describes the importance o… https://t.co/zkwMx6Qw3i
Twitter
RT @173rdFW: "I may have lost everything, but thanks to the support we’ve found here, I’m going to be back on my feet inside of a few weeks…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official sat down and discussed how the Air Force will continue exempting Airmen from PT t… https://t.co/bWVig9fSOW
Twitter
SrA Mark Gonzalez describes how his job enables the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to support the Bomber Task Force depl… https://t.co/sceKCtM3Pz
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Our Airmen come from all walks of life — and we are stronger for it. Staff Sgt. Kalinin, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS…
Twitter
“It's critical to have that diversity in the Air Force that we have today because it is truly through that diversit… https://t.co/RIDQDjdlCr
Twitter
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
Twitter
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
Twitter
In March 2019, @AFSpecOpsCmd received its first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. Referred to as “the ultimate b… https://t.co/V9FoDThYRQ
Twitter
As the Joint Force transitioned from a Continuous Bomber Presence posture in the Indo-Pacific theater to a Dynamic… https://t.co/u8JlA3GaeF
Twitter
As of August 2020, The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, aka Hurricane Hunters, has flown 64 missions into 12 s… https://t.co/CFtHJ8HDXG
Twitter
.@AFGlobalStrike tackled B-1B readiness issues head-on by readying the fleet with a roadmap to recovery over a 2-yr… https://t.co/dEfZemGKbb
Twitter
As we celebrate 73 years of the U.S. Air Force, we remember the heroes we are proud to have served with. Today we… https://t.co/3pdHX3DvIn
Twitter
Flying, fighting and winning since 1947. #USAF73 https://t.co/qM28ykPZwt
Twitter
RT @AF_Academy: Proud to fly the @usairforce flag today and every day! Happy 73rd Birthday! #YourAcademy #FamilyWeek https://t.co/hOIs1ghq7M
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Today we honor the #heroes who knew the worst of war and the agony of captivity - those who fought for and lost their fre…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,280,712
Follow Us