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SMC prepares students for STEM careers

A group of students pepper Karen Austin from the Space and Missile Systems Center's History Office during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored College career fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center Oct. 28.  SMC personnel provided general information on the types of jobs and career selections available at Los Angeles AFB. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

A group of students pepper Karen Austin from the Space and Missile Systems Center's History Office during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored College career fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center Oct. 28. SMC personnel provided general information on the types of jobs and career selections available at Los Angeles AFB. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

Michael Lane Gilchrist, a contractor with Alpha Omega Group, LLC working for the Space and Missile Systems Center's Strategic Planning Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., staffs an information booth during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored  College career fair Oct. 28 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

Michael Lane Gilchrist, a contractor with Alpha Omega Group, LLC working for the Space and Missile Systems Center's Strategic Planning Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., staffs an information booth during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored College career fair Oct. 28 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

Van Choat, from the Space and Missile Systems Center's Contracting Directorate, discusses career opportunities with a Los Angeles Unified School District student during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored career fair held Oct. 28-29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

Van Choat, from the Space and Missile Systems Center's Contracting Directorate, discusses career opportunities with a Los Angeles Unified School District student during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored career fair held Oct. 28-29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

Michael Lane Gilchrist, a contractor with Alpha Omega Group, LLC, working for the Space and Missile Systems Center's Strategic Planning Directorate and Karen Austin from the Space and Missile Systems Center's History Office field questions from Los Angeles Unified School District students Oct. 28-29 during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored College career fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

Michael Lane Gilchrist, a contractor with Alpha Omega Group, LLC, working for the Space and Missile Systems Center's Strategic Planning Directorate and Karen Austin from the Space and Missile Systems Center's History Office field questions from Los Angeles Unified School District students Oct. 28-29 during the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored College career fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

More than 10,000 Students from the Los Angeles Unified School District arrive at the Los Angeles Convention Center Oct. 28 for the start of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored career fair. Space and Missile Systems Center personnel provided general information on the types of jobs and career selections available at Los Angeles AFB. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

More than 10,000 Students from the Los Angeles Unified School District arrive at the Los Angeles Convention Center Oct. 28 for the start of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored career fair. Space and Missile Systems Center personnel provided general information on the types of jobs and career selections available at Los Angeles AFB. (U. S. Air Force photo/Joe Juarez Sr.)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- Space and Missile Systems Center volunteers eagerly awaited the more than 10,000 students and families who attended the annual College and Career Convention Oct. 28-29, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Launching rockets into space would not have been possible without a skilled and creative STEM workforce.

Michael "Lane" Gilchrist, a contractor with Alpha Omega Group, LLC, working for SMC's Strategic Planning Directorate, explained the event is presented by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce as part of the "L.A. Cash for College" campaign to inform students on how to achieve higher education and career opportunities.

"Many of the students came from the Los Angeles Unified School District's middle schools and high schools. We are here today to promote opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and math career fields within SMC and the Air Force," said Gilchrist.

During the two-day convention, both students and parents received information from college life seminars, interactive career demonstrations, financial aid and scholarship presentations and college and university representatives.

"I am a firm believer in STEM and how important it is and for what it does for our country. The future lies with these students," said Gilchrist. "We need individuals with strong skill-sets in the science, technology, engineering and math fields to replace us who are graying out."

SMC's Heritage Center brought one of their historical exhibits with displays that included images and models of satellites and missiles, intriguing students to approach the booth for information about space careers.

"The youngsters were so interested in us that we ran out of flyers and pamphlets!" said Karen Austin from SMC's History Office. "They were asking great questions and really want to know about opportunities working in STEM fields within SMC." 

"The Heritage Center's mission is to collect, preserve and provide information about the programs, accomplishments and legacy of SMC and the space missions of the Air Force. By attending this event, we bring awareness to STEM fields and we hope our participation will assist in future recruitment in STEM," said Austin.

The booth was crowded with students wanting information on SMC's civilian career opportunities. Volunteers at the booth answered all of their questions and provided them with information.

"I must have spoken to more than 100 students already, and the event just started," said Van Choat, from SMC's Contracting Directorate. "I volunteered because I wanted to share with the students the different STEM career opportunities at SMC. I want to inspire them to enter STEM fields and show them these careers can be exciting.  Many students are unaware of the types of jobs SMC offers for recent college graduates; jobs in financial management, engineering, contracting and program management."

"This is a great opportunity to generate awareness in STEM career fields and stress the importance of STEM to tomorrow's future workforce," said Choat. "Today is proof that students are interested.

This is one of many outreach events SMC participates in to promote education and awareness of the STEM career opportunities in the Air Force.