Team Fairchild participates in WSU STEM fair

Staff Sgt. Gerardo Salas, 92nd Medical Group Bioenvironmental engineer, helps Dustin Ylitalo, Deer Park Middle School student, with a M50 gas mask at an informational booth during the  Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Members of Team Fairchild attended the fair to provide visiting students with information about the science, technology, engineering and math related fields that the U.S. Air Force offers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Staff Sgt. Gerardo Salas, 92nd Medical Group Bioenvironmental engineer, helps Dustin Ylitalo, Deer Park Middle School student, with a M50 gas mask at an informational booth during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Members of Team Fairchild attended the fair to provide visiting students with information about the science, technology, engineering and math related fields that the U.S. Air Force offers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Dustin Ylitalo, Deer Park Middle School student, tries on a M50 gas mask at an informational booth during the  Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Members of Team Fairchild attended the fair to provide visiting students with information about the science, technology, engineering and math related fields that the U.S. Air Force offers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Dustin Ylitalo, Deer Park Middle School student, tries on a M50 gas mask at an informational booth during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Members of Team Fairchild attended the fair to provide visiting students with information about the science, technology, engineering and math related fields that the U.S. Air Force offers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

2nd Lt. Joseph Applewhite, 92nd Force Support Squadron officer promotion manager, scores the project of Zachery Miller, Deer Park Middle School student, during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Team Fairchild officers and Airmen were invited by WSU to help with the preliminary judging of the students projects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

2nd Lt. Joseph Applewhite, 92nd Force Support Squadron officer promotion manager, scores the project of Zachery Miller, Deer Park Middle School student, during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Team Fairchild officers and Airmen were invited by WSU to help with the preliminary judging of the students projects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Lt. Col. Gavin Dillon, 92nd Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering commander, reviews the project of Alexis Ross, Spokane Valley Tech student, during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Team Fairchild attended the fair as part of the Installation Diversity Initiative, which aims to diversify and uplift the U.S. Air Force by recruiting the best and brightest minds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Lt. Col. Gavin Dillon, 92nd Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering commander, reviews the project of Alexis Ross, Spokane Valley Tech student, during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Team Fairchild attended the fair as part of the Installation Diversity Initiative, which aims to diversify and uplift the U.S. Air Force by recruiting the best and brightest minds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Alexis Ross, Spokane Valley Tech student, displays her "bullying prevention bracelet" project during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Sixth through 12th grade students from schools around the region gathered to showcase their science, technology, engineering and math projects at the fair. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Alexis Ross, Spokane Valley Tech student, displays her "bullying prevention bracelet" project during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Sixth through 12th grade students from schools around the region gathered to showcase their science, technology, engineering and math projects at the fair. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Capt. Joseph Springfield, 384th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, reviews the a project during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Team Fairchild officers and Airmen were invited by WSU to help with the preliminary judging of the students projects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Capt. Joseph Springfield, 384th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, reviews the a project during the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Spokane Washington State University campus, Washington, March 15, 2018. Team Fairchild officers and Airmen were invited by WSU to help with the preliminary judging of the students projects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The U.S. Air Force’s greatest asset is its people, so it is essential to attract the best minds and talent to accomplish the complex missions required to fly, fight and win. Team Fairchild recently reached out to young innovators at a Washington State University event to inspire the Air Force leaders of tomorrow.

The USAF Installation Diversity Program is an initiative that encourages new approaches for reaching the best and brightest talent. In cooperation with Spokane’s WSU campus, more than a dozen USAF officers, enlisted Airmen and civilians from Team Fairchild served as interim judges in the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math competition for local 6th to 12th graders.

“It’s a fantastic idea for the Air Force and WSU to intermingle with these events,” said Lt. Col. Gavin Dillon, 92nd Bioenvironmental Engineering flight commander. “We need more young people that have these STEM backgrounds in our ranks to keep our edge in the global environment we work in. It’s encouraging to see young minds working hard to solve problems relevant to [today].”

The fair gave young STEM aspirants the opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and research into solutions for our modern time. The Team Fairchild judges had a unique opportunity to speak with students and bridge the gap between student projects and the Air Force.

In 2015, the Air Force implemented nine Installation Diversity Program initiatives as part of a sustained effort to obtain and retain a diverse, experienced and innovative force. STEM degree recruits are in high demand as they are vital to current and future military efforts, said Mrs. Dawn A. Altmaier, 92nd Air Refueling Wing community support coordinator.

The Air Force leads the way in developing solutions to ever-evolving battlefields, so IDP initiatives aim to add highly knowledgeable, skilled and innovative Airmen to the ranks to continue keeping America and our allies safe from threats.

“I was personally thrilled to see some entries on the human sciences,” Altmaier said. “Speaking to students about their research, similar to how I do research in my job, opened these student’s eyes that the Air Force is more than flying planes or going to war; that’s a common misnomer from youth who don’t have many opportunities to interact with military personnel.”

The STEM event not only allowed teenagers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Airmen, but left Team Fairchild inspired about the next generation.

“There are some really good ideas out here and smart kids,” said 2nd Lt. Joseph Applewhite, 92nd Force Support Squadron, officer promotion manager. “I’ve seen a few projects whose results were indistinguishable from a professional scientist’s methodology. It makes me feel confident about the next generation of STEM degree holders.”