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Rapid StrikeYou've heard it said many times before: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) drive practically everything we do. Learn first-hand what the United States Air Force does as they immerse you in its high-tech, high-action world next April at the Festival Expo!

The Air Force– with its mission, "to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace" – is once more returning as a major sponsor of the Festival, bringing exciting new insights into the vital role that STEM is playing in keeping the Air Force at the cutting edge of technology, ranging from the development of lasers and launching satellites to micro air vehicles and supersonic aircraft.

"And like no time before in our history," says Maj. Devin Washington, Chief of Air Force Strategic Marketing National Events Branch, "we are looking for the best and the brightest individuals in STEM who desire to pursue careers in defense of our country."

He adds, "Like other professions, the Air Force is becoming more technology-driven each day, so we need the best students in STEM for a wide range of opportunities – from medical professionals, fire fighters and mechanics to rocket scientists and pilots – to help us solve our greatest challenges."

And like its last appearance at the Festival Expo in 2012 – when it wowed audiences with its Command Center Alpha demonstrations (an exciting augmented-reality interactive experience that lets visitors get up close and personal with an F-16 Thunderbird, and gives insights into Air Force STEM careers) – the Air Force is preparing to return in April with another treat: the Rapid Strike Simulator.

"This is a unique six-minute motion simulator that allows visitors to experience a real Air Force mission from a first person perspective, including an F-22 Raptor mission and a Special Forces mission," says Maj. Washington.

HALO JumpIn addition to its high-tech pursuits, the Air Force supports these objectives with leading educational and training opportunities for its professionals, including education in STEM. "For example," explains Maj. Washington, "we are the home of America's largest community college, the Community College of the Air Force, in which every enlisted Airman is automatically enrolled."

Also, Airmen can receive graduate level educational opportunities through the Air Force Institute of Technology Graduate school of Engineering and Management. The Air Force is also home to a leading research laboratory -- the AFRL, or Air Force Research Laboratory - which is constantly discovering and developing new defense technologies for the Air Force's air, space and cyberspace missions.

The Festival is one of several key outreach events in which the Air Force participates and collaborates nationwide. These include the FIRST Robotics Championship and Science Olympiad. In 2013, the Air Force also launched its newest STEM initiative called "The Air Force Collaboratory," intended to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. It is an online collaborative platform where students and teachers worked with Air Force experts to solve some of the Air Force's toughest science and technology challenges, with projects ranging from developing new technologies for search and rescue operations in collapsed structures to determining the precise orbital plane and slot to launch the newest GPS satellite.

For more information on the U.S. Air Force, please visit airforce.com/.

The Festival sincerely thanks the United States Air Force and our other valued Sponsors and Partners for inspiring the next generation of STEM innovators!

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