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STEM Diversity Day: Building the Air Force We Need

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Anh T. Bui
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

It’s not every day that teenagers get to witness how the Air Force uses science, technology, engineering and mathematics across its career fields. However, for the Airman here, it’s what they do every day.

Keesler Air Force Base hosted its 5th Annual STEM Diversity Day at the fuel cell hanger on March 29.

Approximately 250 students and educators from across eight high schools on the Gulf Coast experienced how the Air Force uses STEM to complete its missions.

“The schools had interest in STEM,” said Gerald Cross, the school liaison officer for Keesler Air Force Base. “Everything we do here at Keesler is surrounded by STEM, so we thought it would be a really good fit for us.”

The day began with the presentation of the colors by the honor guard and opening remarks by Col. Lance Burnett, 81st Training Wing vice commander. Afterward, the students broke into groups to explore the diverse STEM career fields offered in the Air Force.

Students saw how the Office of Special Investigations uses scientific instruments to collect forensic data from a crime scene, got to practice life-saving medical procedures on a realistic medical simulator used to train the Airman at the Keesler Medical Center and saw how the 335th Training Squadron uses a TMQ-53 tactical meteorological overserving system to provide accurate weather forecasting in all operating locations.

Furthermore, the students were able to jump into virtual reality through HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, provided by the 81st Training Support Squadron and communicate with each other through several radios supplied by the 338th Training Squadron.

“My favorite booth was the one about hacking Wi-Fi and robot technologies,” said Tyree Jones-Magee, a sophomore from Harrison Central High School. “I’ve always been interested in technology, programming and coding so that really sparked my interest.”

The day concluded with a canine demonstration from the 81st Security Forces Squadron and a team building competition where the schools competed against each other in a test of speed, physical endurance and strength as well as mental problem solving.

Gautier High School edged out the other seven schools, finishing first overall, with D’lberville High School taking home second and Pascagoula High School finishing in third place.

Through STEM Diversity Day, students learned that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are not just found in the classroom, but are vital to mission success every day in the Air Force.

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