ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. – Bridge to the Future, an event hosted by National Aerospace Solutions, the Test Operations and Sustainment contractor for AEDC, provided college-age students of AEDC team members the chance to see where their family works and learn about the many career opportunities available at Arnold Air Force Base.
During the event, the participants heard from several individuals in leadership roles at Arnold AFB, which included AEDC Commander Col. Scott Cain and Col. Raymond Briggs, chief of the Arnold Air Force Base Test Systems Sustainment branch, NAS General Manager Cynthia Rivera and NAS Deputy General Manager Doug Pearson, among others. They also took a tour of the test facilities and then had one-on-one time with a mentor working in their particular area of interest.
Mark Jenkins, NAS Ethics and Compliance officer, explained that Bridge to the Future, held Dec. 18, was the idea of Cynthia Rivera, who hoped that these students might develop interest in becoming future AEDC team members.
“Cynthia had this vision for our [NAS] college and technical school-aged children and grandchildren to see the neat things where their parents and grandparents work,” he said. “From there it grew into an AEDC-wide event geared towards the same target group and expanded to include recruiting.”
Jenkins, who spearheaded the event, added that outreach to college-aged individuals, especially those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career fields, is important for AEDC “because we have lots of work to do and need great folks to help us do it.”
“We need to identify and pursue the next generation of employees who will work with us to perform AEDC’s mission for all our customers and the national defense,” he said. “Reaching out to our families to do this is natural for us. It is in a sense an embodiment of our culture. We are proud of our diversity, inclusiveness, collaborative work environment and of what we do and how we do it; and we want those who are most near and dear to us to be a part of that.”
Col. Cain also stated he is all for any event that involves supporting one’s family.
“The Bridge to the Future was a great event and I enjoyed talking to the students and families. Family is my priority, but this event put that in a new light for me. In many cases, AEDC really is a family business, and we have second and third generations serving here!”
“I told the students and families what AEDC means to our operational Airmen and our flight testers who operate systems after they have been developed and tested at AEDC. We really are a crucial step in making systems ready for combat, and serving at AEDC makes us all part of something very important for our nation.”
Col. Briggs, who helped welcome the students to Arnold at the beginning of the day, added that the event allowed participants to see how STEM is used daily by AEDC team members.
“This event was a great opportunity for students to see trades and engineering applied to solve real problems, he said. “AEDC is a great place for exposure to STEM activities. Hopefully, we can get some interest in having these students join our team after graduation.”
Bridge to the Future received positive feedback from the students as well as those who volunteered their time to the event.
“All of the parents I’ve spoken with had positive comments and said their children or grandchildren enjoyed it very much,” Jenkins said. “Our AEDC Commander and Doug Pearson both relayed their personal piloting experience in sharing the importance of the work that we perform to the participants and this in particular was received very well.”
Jenkins thanked Air Force and NAS leadership, the mentors and all those involved on a job well done.
“We couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of several different organizations and the seamless collaboration between Air Force and contractors,” he said. “It was such a success, and we hope the next Bridge to the Future event will be even better.”