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AFJROTC: Inspiring youth toward STEM careers, creating opportunity

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Part of Air University’s mission is “We produce the future ... ”  Efforts to do just that begin with Air Force Junior ROTC, which is our high school citizenship program with 120,000 cadets and a consistently diverse participation with typically 58 percent minority and 38 percent female enrollment.   

Outreach efforts by DoD, Air Force, AFJROTC, Air Force Association, and partnering corporate foundations to support high school STEM initiatives are certainly making positive impacts toward not only inspiring students toward STEM careers, but also helping to create opportunity for students and cadets who may otherwise not have it.

In a targeted outreach effort to capitalize on this incredible diversity and desires to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics opportunities, Headquarters AFJROTC recently partnered with the Air Force Association to promote the exciting STEM-focused high school StellarXplorers III space launch competition.    

StellarXplorers is a competition designed to inspire and attract high school students to pursue studies and careers in STEM through a challenging space system design competition involving all aspects of system development and operation with a spacecraft and payload focus.

Last year was the competition’s second year, where the AFA hosted a total of 27 teams.

This year, with aggressive promotion by Headquarters AFJROTC with units and partnering schools, 132 high school teams are already registered for the StellarXplorers III competition. This is almost a 500 percent increase in participation! The teams represent 30 different states and two overseas locations.

Of the 132 teams, 79 teams are from AFJROTC units, which includes 48 of the 61 total Title 1 school teams. The diversity that these Title 1 schools bring to the competition is remarkable and represents the diversity demographics the Air Force desires to reach in its Air Force K-12 STEM Outreach Plan and Program.   

The competition is open to all high schools students who wish to form a team and is not limited to AFJROTC cadets alone. Teams can come from any high school, home school, JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, school clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, or any high school organized youth organization.

With the diversity inherent in AFJROTC and the partnerships with the AFA and the Air Force’s K-12 STEM program, AFJROTC is truly a “fertile field” that is inspiring talented students toward critical STEM career fields.

For more information on the AFA StellarXplorers competition, visit www.stellarxplorers.org.

For more information on Air Force Junior ROTC, visit http://afjrotc.com/index.php?menu=JROTC.