By By Edgar Nava, Public Affairs Specialist, Space Systems Command, Public Affairs, SSC
/ Published July 20, 2022
Jonathan Stroud poses for an official biography photograph for his recent award of the Department of Defense's STEM Education and Outreach Advocate of the Quarter Award for Q2 of FY22.
Space System Command, Deputy Director of STEM, Jonathan Stroud, engages with U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from John F. Kennedy High School in Tamuning, Guam, during a recent visit to Space Systems Command on Wednesday, April 27. The cadets, several of whom had never left Guam before, arrived in California on Monday in preparation for Saturday’s Golden Bear West Coast National Drill Meet competition in Torrance.
Students from the University of Southern California, Santa Monica College, Florida A&M University, and San Jose State University visited the Los Angeles Air Force Base in collaboration with the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence and SSC’s STEM program as part of their hybrid summer internship program. Subject matter experts from a variety of SSC program offices, both civilian and uniformed, shared their professional knowledge, career advice, and personal experiences about what it is like to serve in the military or work for the federal government.
Unlike other branches in America’s armed forces, the U.S. Space Force does not have the luxury of hundreds of years of organizational history, identity, or branding. How exactly do you translate technical concepts or vocabulary to others unfamiliar with space? How do you cultivate grassroots interest and increase awareness of your organization? There's no simple answer but Guardians are getting after this challenge every day.
Jonathan Stroud, a developmental engineer and deputy director for Space Systems Command’s Space STEM Outreach Program at Space Base Delta 3 (SBD 3) in Los Angeles is a natural at sharing technical concepts with others. So much so that he was recently awarded the Department of Defense’s STEM Education and Outreach Advocate of the Quarter. This recognition is not only a substantial personal win for Stroud and his department, but also for the USSF. In fact, it’s the first time someone from the branch has earned this award.
“As a lean, tech-savvy, digital service, developing the next generation of scientists and engineers is critical to our long-term success,” said Joy White, executive director for SSC. “Jonathan's work as a mentor and advocate for STEM education, especially to develop and grow the Space STEM Outreach Program, has been integral to inspiring thousands of local students.”
Stroud, and his director Nicole 'Nikki' Palmer, have diligently worked to address the challenges of articulating science and space-related topics with others. SSC’s STEM outreach efforts focus on children and young adults for a few reasons: to involve, inform, and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM and space and to increase their awareness of exactly what goes on at Los Angeles County’s sole active duty military installation.
It is no surprise that Jonathan’s earliest curiosities led him to pursue an occupation in science and technology. A Virginia native and innately curious by nature, he’d often gravitate towards intricate processes or activities such as disassembling and reassembling electronics or staring in awe of Disneyland’s animatronics and Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic’s visual effects.
“There is a lot of opportunity in STEM related career fields, with a lot of exciting technological advancement currently underway, especially in the space industry,” said Stroud. “You get to be a part of the future of technology and I love interacting with a wide variety of people, whether that is students, teachers, parents, or the community. I have been able to make many connections at SSC and get to know a lot of incredibly talented people.”
Jonathan Stroud didn’t set out to work as a public servant, but he’s always had his eye on serving others in his own meaningful capacity. His career as a USSF federal employee began at Space Base Delta 3 in late 2021 via the SMART Scholar program, but he’s been affiliated with SSC since his undergrad days at Virginia Tech University in 2018. An aerospace electrical engineer by trade, Stroud and SSC's STEM outreach efforts have successfully engaged a staggering 6,500 students at the kindergarten through 12th grade level from the start of 2022 to present. He’s yet to share his accomplishment with his family but here’s hoping they read this article. Great job, Spacemate!
Do you know a student interested in STEM or space? Would you like more information on SSC’s STEM outreach program? You can book an on-site tour, request a school demonstration, or send your questions to Nikki and Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all other inquiries, please contact SSC Public Affairs at email@example.com.