U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- –
U.S. Space Command held its inaugural Academic Fair at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Mar. 8-9.
The two-day event, kicked off by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Brook Leonard, USSPACECOM Chief of Staff, initiated mutually beneficial partnerships between USSPACECOM and academic organizations for space education and research.
“We can think about organization and technology, but the most powerful thing is how we think about space. This is why the relationship between USSPACECOM and academia needs to be robust,” Leonard said as he welcomed nearly 100 participants, attending both virtual and in-person, from more than 10 academic organizations across the western part of the nation.
More than a year in the making, this event is a USSPACECOM initiative to build relationships with academia in support of research, professional education, training, diverse human talent development and futures capabilities.
Academic Fair organizers from USSPACECOM Training and Education Division invited academic organizations that are Space Grant Consortium members, provide space-related education programs while also identifying diverse serving institutions.
U.S. Space Force Maj. Gen. David Miller, Operations, Training and Force Development Director, impressed upon the need of partnerships during the overview of an academic alliance vision. The general explained the need for a space-minded nation that understands the value and contribution of space, space operations and the associated mission sets to national security, national economy and international partnerships.
“We ask you to partner with us as part of an academic alliance because we have a force development requirement that isn’t just for military use. It’s a force development requirement that is about the entire nation,” said Miller.
USSPACECOM personnel led the first day with a panel featuring joint directorate leadership from several functional areas within the joint command. The panel members provided an overview of their respective directorate expertise and explained a variety of research topics where each function could use assistance.
“This panel was great because the [directorate leadership] was forthcoming about the help that we need, and the attendees responded with questions and ways their academic institution can help,” said U.S. Space Force Col. Douglas Drake, Training and Education Division Chief, USSPACECOM.
Throughout the day, USSPACECOM proposed plausible collaborative efforts including student internships within the organization and providing collaborative research, publication and employment opportunities. Other proposals included USSPACECOM guest lectures and establishing service academy cohorts within academic institutions. The informative day ended with a tour of the U.S. Air Force Academy and its planetarium.
The second day was led by select academic institutions presenting their respective space-related programs and space grant activities, including proposed distance education and integrated academic opportunities for USSPACECOM personnel.
The panel of the day was led by academic organizations who currently have partnerships with other combatant commands and military services. The panel members shared their experiences and answered attendee questions.
The idea was to provide shared experience to the attendees who have never worked with the military, according to Colonel Drake.
Closing out the fair, academic institutions provided poster presentations of current space-related research, degree programs and achievements sparking shared dialogue and networking opportunities among the attendees.
Colonel Drake said he considers the Academic Fair a great success and the goal is to invite more academic institutions from across the country to the next event.
“A nation with a growing population of space professionals is better prepared to defend its national security interests in space,” he added.