December 1, 2017

Industry leaders and schools network to promote STEM

Linda KC Reynolds
staff writer

Getting cheeky: Jazmin Sanchez from Highland High School and Mera Burton from Aero Institute hand their cheek cells to Antelope Valley College student Sarah Schroeder during The Antelope Valley East Kern STEM Network 5th annual STEMposium “The Future of Innovation.” The event helps school and industry leaders network to promote STEM education and learn what industries need from future employees.

The Antelope Valley East Kern STEM Network held its 5th annual STEMposium, “The Future of Innovation,” at the Chimbole Cultural Center in Palmdale, Calif., where industry leaders and educators shared experiences and their vision for the future.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the colleges, universities, actually all schools and industries, to connect and see what is available to create more opportunities for STEM activities for students K-20,” said Lisa Brown, who developed the online Junior Test Pilot School curriculum for the Flight Test Historical Foundation. “It’s also a great opportunity to see what industry leaders need for future employees.”

Aerospace has come a long way, from the first powered aircraft flight of the Wright Brothers in December 1903, to astronauts orbiting and living on the International Space Station. Times have changed, education must change also.

“We have 180 days of instruction,” said guest Mera Burton, NASA Education Specialist from Aero Institute. “That’s not much time to teach what you want to teach and what you are required to teach.”

Eastside Union School District education coordinator Matthew Winheim believes that we are at the cusp of a new era in public education. “How we as educators decide to engage this new environment of cooperation, if we choose to design and create it that way, will define this valley for generations to come.”

Industry speakers encouraged educators to think and teach outside the box.

Keynote speaker Chris Klug serves as the senior civilian and technical adviser to the 412th Operations Group. Klug said that instead of reinventing the wheel, his group dedicates about 10 percent of their time learning from other group’s failures and accomplishments. “It’s a tremendous eye-opener to see how other people in similar fields and organizations do things differently.”

Keynote speaker Chris Klug, senior civilian and technical adviser to the 412th Operations Group at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., shares his thoughts on innovation during The Antelope Valley East Kern STEM Network 5th annual STEMposium. Klug said persistence and passion are key elements in innovation.

Klug describes innovation as a discontinuous improvement with some risk of failure. “If there is a discontinuous improvement with zero risk, that is an easy sell — just go do it.” However, with a risk-averse culture that often hinders flight testing, Klug says his observations on the innovation team encourage people to think outside the box.

“Brilliant ideas come from all levels of people, not just engineers and people with degrees.” Klug said innovators have passion and persistence. “Status quo can be just fine but you may want to look at other alternatives.”

Students from middle and high schools, as well as AV College, displayed their creations such as drones and 3-D printing. Fulton and Alsbury Academy of Arts and Engineering students explained the process they used to design their award-winning monument design for Army Air Corps and Air Force Medal of Honor recipients, which will be displayed at the entry of Edwards Air Force Base.

Other speakers included Kenneth Herrera, a Southern California Edison manager and musician, and Edward Burnett, a senior fellow for Modeling, Simulation and Controls at Lockheed Martin.

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