Scientists Give Back to STEM Students

Scientists and engineers who have joined the workforce at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base within the past five to seven years are being invited to serve as mentors and role models in a Department of Defense initiative designed to raise awareness about the DoD as an employer of choice for today’s diverse college students in STEM majors.

STEM GFXThe organizers are especially interested in showcasing the variety of opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields available within DOD civilian careers.

“The hope is to make the Department of Defense an employer of choice for tomorrow’s college students in STEM programs,” said Richard Baker, coordinator for Air Force STEM Outreach Programs.

Five pilot sites have been selected, including Wright-Patterson AFB, representing the Air Force; the Washington, D.C., metro area, representing the Army and Navy; Huntsville, Alabama, representing the Army and Missile Defense Agency; and San Diego, California, representing the Navy.

“We intend to support our local science and engineering recruiters as they share information about internships and entry-level positions with students and recent graduates,” Baker said.

He is working with science and engineering recruiters at the Air Force Research Laboratory, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and the 88th Air Base Wing Civilian Personnel Section to discuss how to maximize campaign results. Focus groups have been held with science and engineering students at Wright State University to determine the best ways to reach such students.

Air Force Research Laboratory strongly supports outreach efforts like the AFRL La Luz Academy at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. to excite interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Mentors engage with students from elementary schools through university internship programs to attract for STEM talent. The goal is to develop and attract a skilled workforce to meet DoD and the nation's and need for advanced technology. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Released)

Air Force Research Laboratory strongly supports outreach efforts like the AFRL La Luz Academy at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. to excite interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Mentors engage with students from elementary schools through university internship programs to attract for STEM talent. The goal is to develop and attract a skilled workforce to meet DoD and the nation’s and need for advanced technology. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Released)

Wright-Patterson AFB kicked off its participation earlier this year when 20 prospective program participants, nominated by their organizations, and some of their supervisors gathered for an initial meet and greet and to discuss their roles and responsibilities if they are selected to represent Wright-Patterson AFB in the national campaign.

The next step is for a team from Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST), the contract agency hired by DoD for the project, to interview the role models on film and in print and share why they chose to work for the DoD, what’s interesting about their career, and what it’s like to work at Wright-Patterson AFB, Baker said.

“We are proud of our young professionals here at Wright-Patterson, and we’d like to share their stories to help prospective employees know there are people and careers here that they can identify with,” he said.

The base’s Diversity and Inclusion Office, led by Kathryn Pullen, chief, assisted with recruiting the role models at Wright-Patterson AFB.

“The USAF Diversity Strategic Roadmap identifies Air Force priorities in building a diverse workforce, which includes attracting and recruiting diverse individuals to consider service with the United States Air Force in uniform or as a civilian employee,” she said. “This diversity awareness campaign will help move the Air Force forward in accomplishing that goal. Since Wright-Patterson AFB was selected as the Air Force participant and actually has a diversity and inclusion office, it was important that we be part of the candidate identification process.”

“I hope that the Wright-Patterson STEM diversity mentors and role models will help spread the word that there are excellent career opportunities with the Air Force in general, and Wright-Patterson AFB in particular, for those who are interested in the STEM careers,” Pullen said.

Story and information provided by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
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