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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | March 8, 2024

Sixth Annual Aerospace Summit: Propelling innovation and exploration

By Senior Airman Daekwon Stith 316th Wing

Young innovators from local schools filled the bay area of hangar three Wednesday, for the sixth annual Aerospace Summit.

Sponsored by the Patriots Training Technology Center, the summit offered an opportunity for local students to explore facets of science, technology, engineering, art, and math and how the Air Force and the greater Department of Defense incorporate these skills into their day-to-day operations.

“The biggest thing when it comes to STEM in terms of younger students, is I always say don't knock it till you try,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Brandon Garcia, 317th Recruiting Squadron Gold Bar Recruiter, about students who are unsure if STEAM careers are for them.

He then encouraged undecided students to talk to a military recruiter in their area or even a college administrator to get a better understanding of what STEAM careers have to offer.

“It seems hard at first,” Garcia said. “In reality, almost every single person I've ever met who was in those career fields, at one point felt like they didn't know if it was for them. So don't get discouraged.”

Andrews’ STEAM initiative has been presented to more than 20,000 K-12 students since its establishment in 2017, during activities such as airshow field trips, high school mentoring programs, Airmen judging local science fairs, and hosting the annual Aerospace Summit.

Students engaged with more than 14 workshop stations at this year's summit. Their hands-on experience with STEAM included constructing military-grade trucks, test-flying drones and exploring weather testing equipment.

“I kind of already had an idea of where I wanted to go," said Edward Cardona, a student at Wise High School. "But I think this just helped me figure out more information about what the actual process is like.”

Cordona, who also attended last year’s event, intends to go to the Air Force Academy after graduating high school. He then expressed how helpful the Summit was in starting the application process.

“When I didn't really know much about this stuff, I got to learn more about my options, and about how I can do certain things,” Cordona said. “And that helps me plan going forward. And you know, you just get to learn a whole lot of new information. So, it's a really cool event.”

The Andrews STEAM program's goal is to embody the "Accelerate Change or Lose" mindset and to prepare for future challenges.

"The program helps cultivate student interest in military STEAM career paths," said Kristofer Zimmerman, 316th Wing Community Planning Liaison and STEAM coordinator. "To address today's workforce development challenges and tomorrow's missions, proactive steps are necessary."

Following their participation in the workshops and engaging with summit instructors and volunteers about career paths in STEAM, students showcased their drone skills in the annual drone race competition.

U.S. Air Force Col. Todd E. Randolph, 316th Wing and installation commander, announced the competition winners to conclude the event.

In his closing remarks, Randolph thanked all volunteers for their contributions and students for attending. “My hope for all of you today is that you enjoyed your time with us and that you remember something you learn from all of these aviation professionals.”