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Air Force wants student help on STEM projects


STEM-projectsA new interactive online projects platform urges science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students and educators to solve real-world challenges and seeks to show students how classroom STEM lessons translate to the workforce.

The STEM projects will be hosted through the Air Force Collaboratory, a partnership between the U.S. Air Force and GOOD, a social network for activism, launched Aug. 1 and will remain active through the end of November.

Air Force representatives said humanitarian and search-and-rescue missions depend more and more on technological advances created by STEM-educated workers. The Collaboratory aims to inspire participants to use STEM education experiences to solve pressing problems and work to complete STEM projects.

(Next page: The three STEM projects)Students and educators will connect directly with Airmen as they are challenged to develop innovative STEM solutions for three Air Force STEM projects:

  • The first STEM project, “Search and Rescue 2.0,” which will be active for collaboration from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, solicits participants to develop new technologies through rapid prototyping for search and rescue operations to help save lives trapped in collapsed structures.
  • The second STEM project, “Mind of a Quadrotor,” which will be active for collaboration from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, challenges participants to help build a system that allows a quadrotor to navigate its surroundings with minimal human interaction.
  • The third and final STEM project, “Launch of GPS IIF,” which will be active for collaboration from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, tests participants to determine the most effective location within the GPS satellite constellation to launch the Air Force’s newest GPS satellite.

“The Air Force is about a lot more than just flying planes,” said Col. Marcus Johnson, Strategic Marketing Division chief. “We want to give students and educators the opportunity to learn and work on our most innovative STEM projects alongside Airmen. In return, we will get to work with some of the best and brightest to help the Air Force develop solutions that can enhance our Airmen’s capabilities to accomplish their missions.

STEM education and STEM projects have no lack of support among stakeholders, and research notes that it is essential to a well-rounded workforce and successful U.S. economy. Engaging students in STEM projects and STEM education early, and helping them see the link between classroom education and how STEM is used in the real world, can urge them pursue STEM-related paths and STEM projects in college and the workforce.

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Laura Ascione

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