Texas Students Get Taste Of Air Force Science, Engineering
(June 21, 2009)
|RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (6/16/2009 - AFNS) -- Air Force Personnel Center officials here hope to whet the appetites of young science, math and engineering students, so they might later seek "blue chip" career paths, hopefully Air Force blue. |
Toward this end, AFPC's science and engineering career field management team have partnered with the Harmony Science Academy in San Antonio to provide student mentors and other volunteers from the science and engineering communities at local bases.
|Capt. Gary Beisner, of the Aeromedical Test Branch at Brooks City-Base, Texas, demonstrates a medical test analyzer to students at the Harmony Science Academy May 26. The science and engineering career field management team at the Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, have partnered with the San Antonio academy to establish mentors and other volunteers at local bases.|
|"Through tours and open houses, we want to open students' minds to how the Air Force uses technological concepts to meet its mission goals," said Betty Shepard, an AFPC science and engineering career program advisor who is helping to spearhead the initiative. "We also want to show them that the Air Force is a great choice for those seeking rewarding scientific and engineering careers." |
In support of this initiative, about 45 ninth- and 10th-grade students from the academy recently toured the Aeromedical Test Branch at Brooks City-Base, Texas, for a hands-on demonstration of Air Force science and engineering equipment.
The Aeromedical Test Branch is the Air Force's testing agency for assessing medical equipment used on aeromedical evacuation missions, where wounded servicemembers and civilians are transported to medical treatment facilities throughout the world. The branch tests these medical devices to ensure they operate in accordance with manufacturer's specifications when subjected to the harsh environment of an aircraft.
"At this site, vast amounts of human physiology testing was done in the '60s, '70s and beyond for the Air Force and NASA," said Capt. Gary Beisner II, the branch's senior engineer who helped organize and conduct the tour. "This testing paved the way for manned flight, most notably NASA's space missions and the Air Force's U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird missions."
The students toured the altitude chamber, vibration testing tables and were given a rapid decompression demonstration, which occurs when a pressurized aircraft flying at altitude suddenly loses cabin pressure. The branch's testing chamber can perform decompressions up to 100,000 feet per half second.
The students also got a first-hand look at a centrifuge, which spins humans or test equipment to produce high-acceleration forces, or "G loads." These forces simulate flight effects like turbulence, hard landings, sharp turns and fast climbs. The students also explored a thermal test chamber, which evaluates equipment under extreme hot and cold conditions as well as high humidity.
"It's great to be able to see some of our classroom concepts in action and see how they apply to the real world. I especially thought the centrifuge was pretty cool," said academy student William Koehler, who hopes to later pursue an Air Force medical career.
The Harmony Science Academy, which covers kindergarten through 10th grade, is a Texas Science Technology Engineering Mathematics, or T-STEM, school. T-STEM schools are part of a unique public-private alliance that is dedicated to ensuring Texas students graduate ready for college and future success. The school is expanding to include the 11th grade next year and the 12th grade the following year.
"We plan to schedule more tours of science and engineering areas at local bases around San Antonio and involve more and more schools," Ms. Shepard said. "In addition to tours, we're also looking for volunteers to assist with career days, science fairs and to serve as mentors for students on their science projects. For our future, it's important that we continue to encourage our young people to pursue these types of careers."
Article and photos by Richard Salomon
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
Reprinted from Air Force News Service
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