Various organizations from Edwards Air Force Base participated in the 27th annual Salute to Youth career fair at the Antelope Valley Fair and Event Center in Lancaster, Calif., Oct. 11, 2018.
The career fair connects local teenage school children with representatives from both the private and public employment sectors. The goal of the event is to educate children about the numerous career options available to them from within the Antelope Valley.
“We’re here to talk to roughly 2,400 students about careers at Edwards and in engineering specifically,” said Larry Dale, 812th Aircraft Instrumentation Test Squadron, Aircraft Modification chief. “We let them fly our flight simulators to encourage them to think about engineering as a career field. We talked to them about math, science and engineering and different jobs at Edwards.”
Dale’s team brought two different flight simulators as attention-grabbing tools to connect with the children at the fair. Dale is a native of the Antelope Valley and said events such as the career fair would have been beneficial to him when he was younger. He hopes that by attending the fair he can spark some interest in the engineering field with his young audience.
“Having kids of my own, I think it’s nice to give back to the community,” Dale said. “The people I bring out here with me are our brand new engineers, right out of college. They can relate to the kids, they can talk to them about their college experiences, about what college classes they should take and why they chose engineering as a career field.”
Another engineer present at the event was Ashley Vu, a civil engineer with the 412th Civil Engineer Group. She talked to the children about her job as a civil engineer, and while not as glitzy as an aeronautical engineer, it is still a viable career field and has important day-to-day functions.
“It’s important to let kids know what we do as an engineer and why we chose the profession,” Vu said. “I talked to quite a lot of kids and it seems like they don’t really know what civil engineers do and why it’s important to be an engineer and why we need engineers out there in the world.”
Vu also said that she hopes her presence at the fair as a young, Asian-American woman, would help to inspire other girls to consider engineering as a career.
“I think seeing a young woman who is actually an engineer gives them the inspiration to actually become an engineer,” Vu said. “It gives them hope that if they want to be an engineer, and they’re a minority woman, it can happen. All they have to do is work really hard in school and stay focused; the most important thing is to have a goal. Engineering is not easy, as long as they want it, they’ll get it.”
Besides civilian engineers, Edwards was also represented by active duty personnel. Airmen from the 412th Security Forces Squadron were on hand to highlight some of the tools and equipment they utilize as part of their job providing police services to the base. They were there to educate the high school children about other career fields offered by the Air Force and to dispel popular myths.
“The Air Force is a great job, they’ve really helped me out a lot,” said Senior Airman Gibran Hernandez, 412th SFS. “When people hear about the Air Force they think we really don’t do much, you’re either a pilot or you’re behind a desk. So we’re out here trying to show people that we’re out there every day; we all get to work with the dogs. We have one of the greatest jobs in the world.”