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USTRANSCOM looks to future of sciences through STEM

“My purpose is to energize this volunteer base,” Todd Pollard said, “to inform and energize our volunteer base, at USTRANSCOM, our component commands and the rest of the base.”

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Ask the average man, or woman, on the street to name a famous American scientist, engineer or math whiz and chances are, after Albert Einstein came up, no one else would. 

That may be because in the U.S. lately, the field that features the likes of Sally Ride, Dian Fossey, Hal Abelson, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell, just doesn’t have the pizzazz of the American Idol crowd. 

Fear not, for a group of Department of Defense workers and civilian educators are bent on enhancing this country’s scientist and engineer production through STEM, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Program. 

“STEM is a national movement between business and government, and many public and private institutions are involved,” said Todd Pollard, a U.S. Transportation Command engineer and STEM supporter. “From a DOD standpoint, we want to inspire, attract and develop the next generation of U.S. scientists, engineers and STEM technicians. 

“The STEM fields cover everything from aircraft mechanic to Ph.D. physicist, and we have most of the field covered here at USTRANSCOM, SDDC and on Scott Air Force Base,” Pollard continued.  “We’ve got thousands of STEM professionals in the DOD workforce here on Scott, among the Guard, Reserves, active duty, civilians as well as defense contractors. 

“My purpose is to energize this volunteer base,” Pollard added, “to inform and energize our volunteer base, at USTRANSCOM, our component commands and the rest of the base.” 

According to Pollard, USTRANSCOM leads the STEM efforts on Scott because of the research and technology applications in place at the command. 

“USTRANSCOM functions as a federal laboratory for tech transfer and STEM purposes,” Pollard said. “However we don’t do it alone.  We have an MOU, Memorandum of Understanding, with the 375th Air Mobility Wing which created the joint STEM advisory group.” 

This group also includes members from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and Air Mobility Command. 

In July last year, USTRANSCOM and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville signed an Education Partnership Agreement, or EPA, which helped expand and enhance SIUE’s  Center for Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics education efforts and brought the expertise of TRANSCOM scientists and engineers to the Southwest Illinois region. 

The center is a collaborative enterprise among several SIUE academic units, local community colleges, school districts, regional offices of education and the community at large. In its   mission to develop , strengthen  and promote STEM initiatives, the center works to enhance teaching and learning. 

At the time of the signing Cindy Doil, Scott Air Force Base School Liaison Officer, commented on the new collaboration. 

 "I see the EPA as a mechanism that allows USTRANSCOM to help SIUE in its regional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math efforts," Doil said. "Through the EPA, USTRANSCOM can help SIUE purchase items, for example, for their equipment lending library which is utilized by school districts in their local area." 

According to Pollard, the STEM program has seen many accomplishments since it was born in March last year.  Among them: 

     - USTRANSCOM/SDDC/375th AMW provided judges for SIUE Math Olympics, Science Fair, and "Botball" robotics tournament

     - Created baseline curriculum for SIUE Summer Transportation Institute educational block on military logistics 

     - Joined AMC Chief Scientist in hosting Wentzville Missouri students at SAFB for STEM visit 

     - Performed "Logistics Roadshow" interactive student experience at local schools:  Moye Elementary, Albers Elementary, SIUE Odyssey Science Camp, and at Scott AFB for Dupo HS JROTC 

     - Provided volunteers for USFIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis 

     - Reached out to Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, East St. Louis, to establish cooperative relationship 

     - Provided nearly $60K in STEM educational laboratory equipment for SIUE STEM Center "Lending Lab,”available for check out to all regional schools 

     - Established liaison with Southwestern Illinois College 

 For further information, or to become a STEM volunteer contact Todd Pollard at todd.pollard.ffrdc@ustranscom.mil, 618-220-1660 or Dr. Cindy Doil, Cynthia.Doil@scott.af.mil, 618-256-9595


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