DAF hosts Black History Month STEM achievement panel Published Feb. 23, 2023 By Staff Sgt. Spencer Slocum 316th Wing Public Affairs JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Department of The Air Force’s Black History Month event was hosted by the Black/African American Employment Strategy Team at the General Jacob E. Smart Conference Center, Feb. 23, 2023. The theme of the event was African American STEM achievements. The panel started off with opening remarks from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. Brown expressed significant contributions in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and the importance of freedom to serve in the military. “It was a readiness imperative to have the freedom to serve and thrive to have effective airpower without regard to race, color, religion or national origin,” said Brown. Brown also spoke about the influence certain individuals such as Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, The Tuskegee Airmen and W. Stuart Symington, first Secretary of the Air Force, have had throughout American Air Force history. Brown reiterated before closing his speech the impact African American members have had while serving in the military. “When the nation needed talent, when the nation needed courage, when the nation needed determination, when the nation needed skill to defend our freedom, African Americans were ready and eager to serve,” he said. The day continued with remarks from the event moderator Col. Janelle T.H. Jackson, Air Force Office of Scientific Research deputy director and Detachment 14 commander. “Today’s discussion is a solution focused dialogue with heavy emphasis exuding professionalism, empathy and compassion at all times,” said Jackson. The day’s guest speakers were then invited to share a short background on themselves. Panelists included members such as Maj. Peter Saunders, Air University Department of Engineering Physics at the Air Force Institute of Technology assistant professor of atmospheric science and Dr. Reginald Turner, Air University School of Systems and Logistics associate dean. Questions were presented to panel members asking about their personal connection and experiences to things such as the importance of celebrating Black History Month, challenges they have faced, ways to overcome barriers and experiences that provided exposure to STEM career fields. “I had a sixth or seventh grade math teacher who submitted a grant to buy some computers for his class,” said Turner. “He got the proposal funded [and bought three basic computers] and I was hooked. At that point I had to be involved in anything that involved computers.” The event concluded with closing remarks from Brig. Gen. Devin R. Pepper, Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate deputy director. Pepper mentioned from the Space Force’s perspective, STEM is extremely important because the space domain deals with all of the components of STEM and is necessary in order to stay ahead of America’s adversaries. “The panel did a fantastic job,” said Pepper. “Thank you to everyone who had a hand in bringing this together.” To view the whole event, click here.