At Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., we design, manufacture, market and service the world’s most advanced business-jet aircraft. We could not do any of that without our highly skilled employees. To ensure a continued stream of qualified employees, it is imperative that students are introduced to science, technology, engineering and math – more commonly known as STEM. We know that the children making paper airplanes in kindergarten and elementary school today are the engineers, pilots and technicians of tomorrow.
To that end, Gulfstream has been pleased to partner with the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield to support DoD STARBASE Savannah, the first such academy on an active Army installation and the first for coastal Georgia. It is a perfect opportunity to put students from Savannah and Chatham County in an environment where they can learn in a dynamic and fun way about STEM – and, I’ll admit, a little extra emphasis on aerospace – and enable them to interact with the incredible role models in our armed forces.
In Savannah, where our company is headquartered, DoD STARBASE is turning young minds onto STEM with great effectiveness. During the regular academic year, every public school system fifth-grader participates in “hands-on, mind-on” activities. They interact with military personnel to explore careers and observe STEM applications in practice, including working on computers, “flying” an aircraft simulator and learning problem-solving as a group.
As U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke noted, “STEM jobs are essential to a competitive, innovative and technologically advanced U.S. economy.” In fact, even in the current slow economy, there are ample job opportunities with higher pay for those whose careers are STEM-focused. At Gulfstream, for example, we announced a $500-million, seven-year expansion plan in 2010 to ensure that the company was well-positioned to meet future demand. With two major expansions in less than 10 years, our workforce has grown by nearly 3,700.
More than 25 percent of our workforce is in STEM roles, and many of the positions that currently do not require specific STEM skills are rapidly changing and requiring more STEM capabilities. A continued focus on STEM, exposure to the industrial arts and a commitment to ensuring students graduate high school and seek out continuing education opportunities are critical to students’ success as well as ours.
That is why the DoD STARBASE program is so important. Last year, nearly 70,000 students participated in these programs, with an average cost per student of just $382. What an amazing return on investment.
Gulfstream is pleased to support such a worthy endeavor. The future success of our company depends on robust programs like DoD STARBASE.