Spirit of volunteerism shines in AFRL engineer

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Cultivating an early interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics--or STEM disciplines--is an important part in developing the next generation of scientists and engineers.  Dr. Augustine Urbas of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate has recently been honored as the Wright-Patterson AFB Volunteer of the Quarter for doing just that.  

Col. Elena Oberg, Vice Commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, recognized Urbas as the Fourth Quarter 2015 recipient in a ceremony on March 9, presenting him a certificate in recognition of his efforts.

In the past five years, Urbas has served as a volunteer mentor for the Thurgood Marshall High School Math and Science Club and Robotics Team.  There, he helps students prepare for the school's yearly science fair, advising them as they develop project ideas and mentoring them throughout the process.  He listens to students' updates as they progress, providing guidance to keep them on the right track. 

Thurgood Marshall High School, with Urbas' guidance, received the Harold C. Shaw award for the team's "Superior" and "Excellent" ratings for their project posters at the Ohio Science Fair Competition in 2014.

"Your story really resonated with me for a variety of reasons," Oberg told Urbas at the ceremony, explaining that she herself had spent time volunteering with students.  "I know what an impact that can have on their lives."

For the school's Robotics Team, Urbas mentors the students as they research, design, build, and program robots to perform prescribed tasks in preparation for the FIRST Robotics Competition.  He also recruits other volunteers from the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate's Junior Force Council to assist when needed.  In this way, he ensures the students are well-supported, while at the same time giving younger scientists and engineers an opportunity for local community interaction.

"The students are very eager to learn about science and research and they come up with some great ideas.  It's great to see motivated students work hard and succeed, and very rewarding to help them," said Urbas.

Over the last five years, Urbas has impacted the lives of approximately 100 students through his volunteer efforts.

"I liken it to a stone you're throwing into a pond," Oberg said, adding that the ripples from Urbas' efforts will continue to resonate for years to come.

Nominees for the Wright-Patterson AFB Volunteer of the Quarter award must demonstrate at least 100 volunteer hours and be nominated by their manager for recognition at the base level.