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.”