WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Educational Outreach office is looking for qualified mentors to apply to guide the Air Force’s next generation of science, technology, engineering and math professionals by March 29 as part of their Leadership Experience Growing Apprenticeships Committed to Youth program.
LEGACY is a three-tiered program, starting at age 11 and running through college, involving an introduction to STEM topics as a Craftsman, proceeding to paid internships in high school as a Junior Apprentice, leading to paid apprenticeships in college as an Apprentice, culminating with graduates entering the workforce, possibly for the Air Force or other Department of Defense programs. Participation is competitive at all levels with students required to reapply for the program each year.
“Being able to interact with scientists and engineers in their laboratories, engage in hands-on projects in world-class experimental facilities, and interact with people from many diverse technical backgrounds offers these students a very unique experience, bringing to light new perspectives on STEM careers they may have never been exposed to in their high schools or local community colleges,” said Lynne Pfledderer, Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Vehicles Structural Validation Branch chief and LEGACY mentor.
LEGACY mentors can be civilians or military with their supervisor’s permission with no organizational funding required. Mentors can mentor part-time or as part of a shared mentoring option. Students and mentors are paired based on a task plan and uses a guide-and-go mentoring style. Mentors should be available Monday through Friday during normal business hours June 3 through Aug. 9 and be able to provide a back-up mentor for times they may be absent. Potential mentors should apply at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LEGACYmentors2019 and send any questions to AFRL.EN.Legacy@us.af.mil.
Students say the effect that mentors have, on not only the LEGACY program but student lives, can’t be overstated.
“The first year of LEGACY, I had no experience in physics or electrical engineering, so to be assigned to a mentor and lab that was specifically those things scared me,” said Anya Tassy, a second-year LEGACY Junior Apprentice and winner of the 2018 LEGACY Student of the Year award. “However, Alex made me super comfortable and taught me everything I needed to know in the lab. What’s great about him though is that he never just spoon-fed me everything. I did a lot of research about topics on my own and it was a great learning experience when we got to discuss my research.”
For their part, mentors say that the program isn’t all about just what LEGACY does for students, but the feeling of satisfaction it can bring to mentors as well.
“I have always found it to be very rewarding to serve as a mentor to anyone concerned about their educational or career development, regardless of their career aspirations or vocation,” Pfledderer said. “The ability to give back what was given to me by my mentors is very rewarding. Being able to help shape the future of an individual is not a commitment I take lightly.”
Wright-Patterson expects to host roughly 70 students in 2019 with 10 percent of them interested in medical science. LEGACY is an Air Force program executed from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Engineering and Technical Management directorate here.