Vice chief of staff talks STEM to local educators

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location – P
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer spoke to local educators about the particular importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the Air Force during an ASM Materials Teachers Camp July 18, at Shaw-Howard University, Washington, D.C.

The week-long camp for local middle and high school science teachers shows them how to use low-cost, simple labs and experiments using everyday materials that can be integrated into existing lesson plans to engage young people about STEM.

“One of the things I’ve found interesting in the Air Force is the amount of technology we have,” Spencer said. “We have drones that are being flown in Afghanistan, as I sit here, watching what people are doing. The people operating those drones are in Nevada -- essentially flying an airplane halfway around the world.”

Spencer talked about the Air Force’s interest in femtosecond timing, directed energy, new jet engine technology and 3-D printing. According to the dictionary, a femtosecond is one quadrillionth, or one millionth of one billionth, of a second. An example of a femtosecond is one femtosecond is to one second, as one second is to about 32 million years.

“In the Air Force, we have to get places in hours, not days or weeks,” he said. “What is technology going to be ten or 20 years from now? That’s why it’s so important what you guys are doing here today.”

The camp was part of a larger Defense Department initiative called the DOD Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Diversity Campaign.

“The objective of the (STEM Diversity Campaign) is to foster awareness, build skills and widen pathways into the department’s technical workforce for women and underrepresented minorities,” said Enjoli Ramsey, the Air Force STEM Diversity Outreach program manager. “The Air Force recognizes that diverse backgrounds and experiences bring inherently different outlooks and ways of thinking, the key to innovation in organizations as well as our success in the STEM community.”

By providing camps like the ASM Materials Teachers Camp, inner-city school teachers are given tools to foster a culture conducive to growing students in the STEM subject areas.

“Innovative and technically-savvy Airmen are essential to continued mission execution success,” Ramsey said. “Science, technology, engineering and math are a part of every mission we do. We will support the joint mission by assuring technically superior warfighting capabilities through attracting, recruiting/assessing, developing, and retaining a world class workforce of innovators.”