Deputy SecDef invites students to experience the "cool stuff" that DOD does

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and Stephen Welby, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base March 3 to encourage students from the Dayton City School District to consider a government career in science, saying it was a way to make a difference and serve the country.

The possibilities in the career field are seemingly endless, Work said, as he highlighted the department's pioneering achievements, and cutting-edge technologies under development to protect the warfighter and keep the nation safe.

The students visited the Air Force Research Laboratory as part of Week at the Labs, a White House initiative held in conjunction with the White House Council on Women and Girls and the My Brother's Keeper initiative.

The deputy defense secretary noted that during the week, government labs throughout the nation opened their doors to thousands of young people - especially those in underserved communities - to spur interest in science and technology.

"We want to excite you about the work that we do and perhaps convince you that maybe you would like to serve as a member of the Department of Defense, either in research or even as part of the military," Work said.

The deputy secretary highlighted "cool stuff" the Defense Department is working on, including spacecraft, stealth aircraft, exoskeleton suits, robot ships, artificial intelligence and the most advanced unmanned aerial systems in the world.

"I know that if you had an opportunity to work on some of this stuff, you would be as excited as I am, and as are the people who work here at the Air Force Research Laboratory and throughout the United States," he said.

The Defense Department's mission of keeping the nation safe demands that it has the best men and women in its workforce, Work said.

The department has a "true secret weapon," the deputy defense secretary said -- people.

"For all the stealth bombers, and all the space systems and all the cyber stuff that we do, we couldn't do it without our people," he said.

The students toured four AFRL directorates, exploring science from 3-D biofedelic modeling to electron microscopes, revealing a hidden world.

"It's really amazing to see what's happening here," said Oliver Ndayishin, a junior at Ponitz Career Technology Center. "I didn't have any idea that so many things I'd be interested in are available - I'd love to be part of all this in the future."

Jamont Matthews, a junior at Dunbar High School, discovered human-like avatars in virtual reality and how scientists use video game technology for training at AFRL.

"It's a surprise to see that there are really laboratories where they design and study things that people don't really know about," said Matthews. "It opens my eyes to see a lot more careers and it pushes me to be more successful in life."

At the end of the event there were many smiles among the group of students after learning about the many STEM-related opportunities that DOD offers.

"This is a great way to launch their knowledge that people such as these young men are doing these types of jobs every day," said Ray Caruthers, Ponitz Career Technology Center Principal. "Seeing this in person is a much better way to illustrate the vast possibilities for their future."