By Ms. Jeanne Dailey
It was a historic day on 4 August 2011 when the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate director, Dr. David Hardy, signed education partnership agreements with two strong and thriving museums. In an event held at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. the directorate kicked off its Directed Energy through STEM Education program. Directed Energy is partnering with the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore, near Portland, and Explora! in Albuquerque, N.M. Mr. Timothy Wahlberg, President of the Board of Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, and Dr. Patrick Lopez, Executive Director of Explora, signed the agreements alongside Dr. Hardy.
The program’s goal is to preserve directed energy research technology artifacts before the stories disappear and the hardware is destroyed, while at the same time spurring interest among the nation’s youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The directorate will loan artifacts to the museums to be turned into interactive displays or used for learning curriculum.
Evergreen Museum collects, preserves, and interprets the history of aviation culture and space exploration through its artifact collections, educational programs and historical exhibits. It is well-known for housing the huge wooden airplane, the Spruce Goose. Explora! is a science center located in Albuquerque’s Old Town. It is an innovative experiential learning center with exhibits and educational programs designed to support New Mexico’s students in the fields of science, technology and art.
New Mexico U.S. Senator, the Honorable Jeff Bingaman, stated in a letter read at the event, “I commend the AFRL Directed Energy Directorate for their efforts to inspire students across the nation to become interested in STEM education and directed energy in particular. I would also like to thank the Explora Science Museum and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum for partnering with the AFRL to bring cutting edge directed energy technology out of the labs and into our classrooms.” New Mexico Senator Tom Udall also congratulated this group collaboration in STEM education.
“To our knowledge this is the first program of its kind,” said Directed Energy’s chief engineer and outreach lead, Ms. Cynthia Kaiser. “Increasing consumer awareness of directed energy technology capabilities and encouraging youth in scientific and engineering studies are paramount to our outreach. Our long-range goal is to take this program to museums across America.”
Note: Directed energy is a beam of concentrated electromagnetic energy that travels at the speed of light. The Directed Energy Directorate conducts research using DE technology for defensive measures that are precise, provide low collateral damage, and offer non-lethal solutions in hostile situations.