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MacDill hosts largest Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Day

U.S. Air Force Col. April Vogel, the commander for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, pauses for a photo with students and Tampa Bay team mascots during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Col. April Vogel, the commander for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, pauses for a photo with students and Tampa Bay team mascots during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Vogel and Team MacDill welcomed over 1,300 students and guest for STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

The James Monroe Middle School Chargers Band from Tampa, Fla. plays a song during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

The James Monroe Middle School Chargers Band from Tampa, Fla. plays a song during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. The Monroe Chargers Band represented the arts during the MacDill STEAM Day event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

A Florida student tries on an occupational safety health administration (OSHA) level “A” suit during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

A Florida student tries on an occupational safety health administration (OSHA) level “A” suit during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Besides the OSHA level “A” suit, which is the most protective suit made for austere conditions, students were also allowed to try on individual operator tactical vests and mission oriented protective posture gear at STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Hamilton, a radio frequency transmission technician assigned to 6th Communication Squadron, demonstrates the use of a land mobile radio system during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Hamilton, a radio frequency transmission technician assigned to 6th Communication Squadron, demonstrates the use of a land mobile radio system during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Team MacDill partnered with the community to welcome 1,300 students and guests for STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Marine Sgt. Christopher Dobard, a team chief assigned to Joint Communications Support Element, laughs with students while communicating through a multiband multi mission radio during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Christopher Dobard, a team chief assigned to Joint Communications Support Element, laughs with students while communicating through a multiband multi mission radio during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Team MacDill welcomed over 1,300 students and guest for STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Two young students share a laugh while talking about the public address system upon a secured all-around flotation equipped (SAFE) boat during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

Two young students share a laugh while talking about the public address system upon a secured all-around flotation equipped (SAFE) boat during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, SAFE boat, and a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, more commonly known as a Humvee, were on static display for guests to see and tour on. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Kristen Gefre, a Busch Gardens education instructor, pauses for a photo with students during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

Kristen Gefre, a Busch Gardens education instructor, pauses for a photo with students during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. A screech owl, American alligator, and ball python were shown to students and guests at STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Florida Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets participate in a team building exercise during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

Florida Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets participate in a team building exercise during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Students were given team building exercises to demonstrate the significance of communication in stressful situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Junior Reserve Training Corps (JROTC) 1st Lt. Gwyneth Kaighin, and 1st Lt. Isabelle Guevara, both Florida JROTC cadets, pause for photo during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.

Junior Reserve Training Corps (JROTC) 1st Lt. Gwyneth Kaighin, and 1st Lt. Isabelle Guevara, both Florida JROTC cadets, pause for photo during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Kaighin and Guevara were two of 1,300 students and guests who visited MacDill for STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Espada, an individual protective equipment journeyman assigned to the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, fits a student with an individual operator tactical vest (IOTV) and helmet during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Espada, an individual protective equipment journeyman assigned to the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, fits a student with an individual operator tactical vest (IOTV) and helmet during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Students were allowed to try on IOTV and mission oriented protective posture gear at STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Matthew McElyea, a K-9 trainer assigned 6th Security Forces Squadron, practices a bite scenario with trained military working dog, Jecky, during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.
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U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Matthew McElyea, a K-9 trainer assigned 6th Security Forces Squadron, practices a bite scenario with trained military working dog, Jecky, during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Handler protection and bite scenarios are used to apprehend suspects who fail to cooperate with basic instruction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Col. April Vogel, the commander for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, gave opening remarks during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.
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U.S. Air Force Col. April Vogel, the commander for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, gave opening remarks during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. Vogel and Team MacDill welcomed over 1,300 students and guest for STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

The Tampa Bay Lightning mascot, Thunder Bug, pumps up the crowd during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.
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The Tampa Bay Lightning mascot, Thunder Bug, pumps up the crowd during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. The mascots from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Rays took pictures with fans, military members and guests at STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Klenk, an electrical and environmental technician assigned to 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, shows the air condition system of a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018.
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Klenk, an electrical and environmental technician assigned to 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, shows the air condition system of a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 21, 2018. A KC-135 engine and cabin was also shown to guests and visitors at STEAM Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Team MacDill welcomed students and local partners during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Day at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, March 21, 2018.

“We are very proud to have the largest STEAM Day in the Air Force,” said Col. April Vogel, the commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing. “We welcomed more than 1,300 students from the state of Florida and as far away as Ohio.”

What started as STEM Day in 2016, later evolved to incorporate the arts in 2018 and become what is now known as STEAM Day. During that span, attendance increased by almost 400 percent and with that, welcomed new attractions such as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s mascot, Thunder Bug, and the Tampa Bay Rays' mascot, Raymond.

In addition, attendees were able to experience U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical assault light operator suit, also known as TALOS or the “Iron Man” suit, several tactical explosive ordnance robots, a Secured All-around Flotation Equipped (SAFE) boat static display, and a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft static display along with other technological advancements from various units around the base.

“Through the importance of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, we are building innovation,” said Vogel. “We want to continue the heritage that the Air Force has had as technological leaders and never before in our nation’s history have we depended more on that dominance in science and technology than we do today.”

For modern warfare, technological innovation is important and the U.S. military takes great pride in its technological advancements.

“Our technology is what makes us great, it is what makes us better, and it will help us win the wars of the future and combat the problems we face as a country,” said Vogel.

To generate this innovative technology and overcome the challenges of today and tomorrow, the U.S. military needs the brightest personnel.

“We have the greatest students, teachers, and staff in the world along with the greatest military base and personnel,” said Jeff Eakins, the superintendent of schools in Hillsborough County. “These important subjects covered today provide some of the best careers for our students.”

This event also taught hands-on, problem-solving education that provided real-world application for the students.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students,” said Eakins. “They are really excited to be on a military base, to see military aircraft and technology, as well as meet military personnel.”

The event was more than just a fieldtrip, it was an opportunity for students to find inspiration in a STEAM-related career field while learning about what the Department of Defense has to offer.

“We have a great partnership with MacDill Air Force Base,” said Eakins. “We trust MacDill to expose our students to what the world is like and the type of jobs and opportunities they can expect in and outside of the military.”

While the Air Force hopes to recruit some of the most innovative young minds of tomorrow, it also hopes to inspire future leaders to take an interest in important career fields.

“If we can get one little thing here that sparks their attention, draws them towards science and technology, and inspires them to study a little bit harder,” said Vogel. “Then I think it was worth the effort.”