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STEM summit
(Left) Doug Nation, principal research engineer, Georgia Tech Research Institute; (Middle) Bud Peterson, president, Georgia Tech; (Right) Dr. Don Leo, dean, University of Georgia College of Engineering; observe as Jesse Gonzalez, electronics engineer, explains how work he does here helps keep the nation’s fighter and transport aircraft flying safely. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)
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State, Air Force leaders tackle STEM challenges

Posted 1/15/2014   Updated 1/15/2014 Email story   Print story


Robins Air Force Base Public Affairs

1/15/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- More than 50 leaders from across the state and the Air Force gathered here Thursday to discuss ways to enlarge the pool of Georgia's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics talent.

Both the state and the Air Force will benefit from the enhancements, said the attendees, who included Georgia STEM officials; the presidents of Georgia's leading colleges and universities; primary and secondary school administrators and educators; and Air Force leaders from Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio, among others.

"We're committed to the Robins and state workforces," said Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson. "We're anxious to help in any way we can."

"Improving the pipeline (of Science and Engineering graduates) for Robins is very important. We also have an obligation to do that for the state," said University of Georgia President Jere Morehead. "Both serve Georgia well."

In addition to a series of presentations and roundtable discussions, the group spent time touring the installation where they saw firsthand the importance of having a robust STEM talent pipeline. Included in the tour were visits to various engineering laboratories and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex's software and aircraft maintenance groups, where scientists and engineers in those units solve hard problems and help keep the nation's fighter and transport aircraft flying safely.

Col. Chris Hill, Robins' installation commander, said the base has long recognized it needs the help of others to solve some of its STEM workforce challenges, and this gathering brought together leaders who can make a difference.

"We believe this meeting is a galvanizing event to advance common interests. We want every engineering student in the state to know Robins Air Force Base is a meaningful employment option" he said, adding some small working groups will gather in the weeks ahead and the entire group will meet again in six to eight months from now.

Meanwhile, Dr. Robin Hines, superintendent of Houston County Schools, lauded the summit, noting his team is already busy working on the front end of the pipeline by looking at ways to introduce more students to STEM curriculum early on.

Susan Thornton, director of engineering and technical management at Air Force Materiel Command, also lauded the summit.

It produced good ideas which will not only have applications across Georgia and at Robins, but possibly across the Air Force, she said.

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