Department of Defense STEM Education and Outreach Advocate of the Quarter Award

The U.S. Air Force’s dedication to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) outreach was on prime display during a March 2016 awards ceremony honoring winners of the Department of Defense (DoD) STEM Education and Outreach Advocate of the Quarter Award.

Dr. Melissa Flagg, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Research;  and Dr. Ryan Swindle, Research Physicist, Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site.

Dr. Melissa Flagg, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Research; and Dr. Ryan Swindle, Research Physicist, Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site.

This was the inaugural ceremony for this new FY 2016 award recognizing the extraordinary contributions of DoD military and civilian personnel in promoting, enhancing, and developing STEM education and outreach activities.

The first quarter winner is Dr. Ryan Swindle, a research physicist at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site (AMOS) in Hawaii. The second quarter winner is the Air Force Academy Cadet STEM Outreach Club. In a ceremony at the Pentagon, both Dr. Swindle and Cadet Club representatives were recognized for their unrivaled drive and dedication to STEM outreach by Dr. Melissa Flagg, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research (DASD(R)).

Dr. Swindle, the first quarter winner, established himself as a role model and leader in STEM education and outreach efforts in K-12 activities, teacher education, and internship programs. His accomplishments in the Maui community are numerous:

  • He worked with the University of Hawaii to acquire a 25-person planetarium that showed middle school students how the Air Force uses the night sky in its missions around the globe. The planetarium was so popular with students that Swindle worked with Air Force officials to procure a 50-person unit for future STEM events.
  • Swindle represented AMOS at a local school’s career day, answering questions from over 700 middle and high school students. Through that effort, he was even able to secure a commitment from a student to enlist in the Air Force.
  • He provided physics lab demonstrations for over 60 students and parents at a local elementary school.

The Air Force Academy Cadet STEM Outreach Club consists of over 450 cadets, from various academic backgrounds, who volunteer their item to enrich the local community.  Like Swindle, the Cadet STEM club has made significant accomplishments in supporting STEM education and outreach in their community:

  • The club has established numerous relationships with local schools and has reached more than 175,000 community members in the Colorado Front region. 
  • The club has been recognized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for outstanding STEM outreach in the Rocky Mountain region.
  • More than 15 news and feature articles have been written about the club at the regional and national level, including coverage in the Denver Post and the Air Force Times.
  • In the past year alone, the club has participated in 37 events and dedicated 288 volunteer hours promoting STEM education and STEM career fields. Cadets led classroom demonstrations of hybrid rockets, glider construction, model rocket launches, and robot operation, and gave lessons on flight history.

Scientist of the Quarter banner

The STEM Education and Outreach Advocate of the Quarter Award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of DoD military and civilian personnel in promoting, enhancing, and developing STEM education and outreach activities.

 

2017 Awardees

 

FY 2016 Awardees

Dept of Defense US Air Force OASAALT RDECOM ONR NRL US Air Force Joint Chiefs of Staff Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Force Health Protection & Readiness Defense Threat Reduction Agency Missile Defense Agency Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization Chemical & Biological Defense Program