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AFRL branch builds a LEGACY in mentoring

The Materials Integrity Branch of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate was presented with the LEGACY Mentor of the Year award for hosting and mentoring five Leadership Experience Growing Apprenticeships Committed to Youth, or LEGACY, students during the summer of 2018. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Karen Schlesinger)

The Materials Integrity Branch of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate was presented with the LEGACY Mentor of the Year award for hosting and mentoring five Leadership Experience Growing Apprenticeships Committed to Youth, or LEGACY, students during the summer of 2018. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Karen Schlesinger)

Madisen Millender was one of five LEGACY (Leadership Experience Growing Apprenticeships Committed to Youth) students who worked in the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate Materials Integrity Branch during the summer of 2018. The branch received the LEGACY Mentor of the Year award for their support of the student internship program. (U.S. Air Force Photo/David Dixon)

Madisen Millender was one of five LEGACY (Leadership Experience Growing Apprenticeships Committed to Youth) students who worked in the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate Materials Integrity Branch during the summer of 2018. The branch received the LEGACY Mentor of the Year award for their support of the student internship program. (U.S. Air Force Photo/David Dixon)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A group of scientists and engineers within the Air Force Research Laboratory has emerged as a champion of student mentoring, recently earning the LEGACY Mentor of the Year award.

The AFRL LEGACY office presented the honor to the Materials Integrity Branch of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at a recent Director’s Call. The team was applauded for hosting five students during the summer of 2018. During their internships, these students worked to learn laboratory processes and techniques the branch researchers use as part of their daily material analysis work.

LEGACY, which stands for Leadership Experience Growing Apprenticeships Committed to Youth, is an Air Force outreach program that focuses on under-represented or underserved students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, fields. Students in the LEGACY program participate in age-based camps and internships designed to stimulate their interest in these areas of study, which could lead to future career opportunities within the Air Force.

“We’re so proud of this honor,” said Segrid Harris, chief of the Materials Integrity Branch. “The students in the LEGACY program provided us with great service and fresh perspectives. It’s a win-win for us. They put forth an exceptional effort, and we help shape the next generation of engineers.”

The students performed a variety of materials analysis tasks in support of the projects within the branch. According to Brett Jordan, Electrical and Electronic Materials Evaluation team lead, the work the students performed was intended not only to serve laboratory needs, but to align to their personal academic interests.

“The LEGACY students we were fortunate to have this summer possess a passion for their scientific areas that makes it fun to help guide and mold them into young professionals,” said Jordan. “The LEGACY office found students who had powerful desires to learn from experienced engineers.”

LEGACY Program Managers Justin Earley and Niki Lange say it is these positive experiences from both the students and host organizations that have helped the LEGACY program, only in its third year, grow so rapidly. 

“This program is the real deal, which is why we are expanding so quickly,” Earley said. “I love the impact we’re having every day, helping change students’ lives. I want to thank the folks from the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate who have embraced the program and who have assisted in making LEGACY the game-changing STEM program it is today.”

This year will see the LEGACY program expanding to encompass two new locations, Hill Air Force Base and Santa Rosa, Fla., where Air Force personnel from the established program at Eglin Air Force Base will be partnering with the Navy to host a new student camp. The programs at these locations broaden the LEGACY reach to six sites in total, including Wright-Patterson and Robins Air Force Bases, and the United States Air Force Academy.

Most significantly, LEGACY anticipates hosting a total of 491 students for 2019. Earley said he hopes to continue this rapid growth through the help of mentors and organizations such as the Materials Integrity Branch.

“We are always looking for mentors to host students for the summer or volunteer to do a hands-on demo at camp,” he said.

Those interested in learning more about the LEGACY program and volunteer opportunities can visit http://wpafbstem.com/pages/legacy.html.