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Keesler hosts diversity, STEM outreach for JROTC students

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Duncan McElroy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
A diversity outreach and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program was held Sept. 19, in the fuel cell hangar here.

Approximately 250 Junior ROTC cadets from 10 different area schools attended the day to learn how the Air Force and Keesler apply the latest technology on a daily basis to complete different missions.

STEM is an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to learning about real-world applications of its four core concepts. The Air Force has always been on the cutting edge of the latest technology and science, and hosting this event allowed Keesler to show off how STEM applies in the military.

Diversity Day was one of several events held in celebration of the 67th Air Force Birthday and Wingman Day.

"STEM is one of the hot topics in schools right now; it's huge," said Gerald Cross, school liaison officer at the Airman and Family Readiness Center here. "Everything we do in the Air Force is tied to STEM, and this gives kids a chance to come inside the gate and see how we apply it every single day."

Ten different Air Force careers were represented at the event. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, medical laboratory, medical simulations, security forces, fire department, cyber warfare, weather, air traffic control, Air Force recruiting services and aircraft maintainers and loadmasters with a C-130 static display shared career stories with the cadets.

Each career field gave a presentation featuring an overview of the job, hands-on demonstrations and a question and answer segment. Varied activities like studying crime scene photos with AFOSI agents, breaching a door with security forces, looking through microscopes with lab technicians, donning fire retardant gear and doing pushups with firefighters, and climbing into the cockpit of the C-130 static display helped show off the diversity of the Air Force's careers and people while keeping the students active and engaged.

"This was important for Keesler because they were able to see exactly what some careers do on a day-to-day basis," said Staff Sgt. Clifford Roy, 331st Recruiting Squadron recruiter, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. "The 81st (Training Wing) was able to showcase many things that aren't seen regularly such as AFOSI, security forces, and the medical laboratory. It was great for the Air Force because it showed the overall support for the mission."

"The Air Force is a varied group of people who all work together," said Cross. "We want to help maintain and increase the diversity in the Air Force, which is why we have events like this with recruiting services there to help us out."

In addition to the presentations, other activities included a military working dog demonstration during lunch, presentations of robotics kits for each JROTC group to work on, and a pushup/pull-up contest complete with trophies for cadets to take back to their schools.

"This was an easy event to put together," said Cross. "We had great support from the schools and motivated career field presenters. Everyone had a high level of motivation."

"I think it's awesome how they put this on for everyone," said Navy JROTC Cadet Luke Miller, Gautier High School senior and recent Navy enlistee. "It's really good for all the schools. My favorite part was the security forces exhibit."

Though the event was only a day long, the JROTC students were able to see how their applied STEM skills apply directly to the Air Force; potentially inspiring them to join the ranks of future Airmen.

"It was nice to show the students of the Gulf Coast that we all bring unique efforts to the mission and we are all equally important to the world's greatest Air Force," said Roy.