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VCSO visits Pittsburgh to kick off STEMtoSpace 2022

  • Published
  • By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson recently traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of a two-day civic engagement tour to further knowledge about the U.S. Space Force, advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education and visit academic institutions conducting research and development for space technologies.
During the visit Thompson met with ROTC cadets at the University of Pittsburgh, toured Carnegie Mellon University and the Moonshot Museum and Astrobotics headquarters, as well as spoke to more than 300 K-12 students at the Carnegie Science Center.
During the event at the Carnegie Science Center, Thompson helped kick off the Space Force’s “STEMtoSpace” outreach campaign by speaking with students about the importance of space and STEM education.
Thompson explained to the students that he grew up just a few miles from where they were living in Pittsburgh, and he became interested in STEM subjects after his father let him watch the first astronaut on the walk on the moon when he was just six years old.
“At the time, I didn’t know anything about the moon or astronauts. But after that, I became very interested in science and I started going to the school library to get books about space, planets, rockets, plants, and geology,” he explained. “Over time I learned that if I asked the right questions, and searched for the information, that I could learn it, my brothers could learn it, or anyone could learn it.
“Anything that you want to learn, if you just decide you want to know and understand and grow, you can do it,” he continued. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand something. Go find your teachers, go find your family, go find someone that can help you answer those questions. And that hard stuff isn’t so hard anymore.”
The “STEMtoSpace” campaign runs throughout the month of December each year, as the service was created in December 2019. The campaign encourages engagement between Guardians and youth in virtual and classroom settings, enabling students the opportunity to ask their questions directly to a servicemember and gain a better understanding of how STEM is vital for innovation in Space Force and to the nation overall.
Last year alone the program had a potential reach of more than 184K students around the world, with more than 300 volunteers participating in more than 700 events.
Before culminating the event with an early celebration for the Space Force’s 3rd Birthday, Thompson had a final message to the students.
“Think about those hard things that you might want to do one day. Ask questions about how your computer works, how video games works, or how your drone works,” he explained. “Just start learning about it and suddenly that stuff that seems hard now, isn’t going to be hard anymore. One day, one of you might be standing here talking to the next generation of Pittsburghers. One of you could be the first person to walk on Mars. Anybody in this room could be that person.” 

Space Force News