STEM Opportunities Take Flight with Fairchild Air Force Base Partnership

The GU and Fairchild Air Force Base partnership signing of documents.
Gonzaga Chief of Staff Charlita Shelton and Fairchild Wing Commander Col. Chesley Dycus sign the Education Partnership Agreement.

April 22, 2024
Gonzaga University News Service

A new Gonzaga partnership taking flight with Fairchild Air Force Base is poised to reshape the future of STEM learning, giving students first-of-its-kind learning opportunities and the ability to make real-world contributions to the Department of Defense.

On April 12, 2024, Gonzaga Chief of Staff Charlita Shelton and Fairchild Wing Commander Col. Chesley Dycus signed documents recognizing the new Education Partnership Agreement (EPA), an alliance of academics and Air Force applications that leverages the education and technology of both institutions.

“This agreement creates educational pathways for our students to apply the concepts they’re learning in the classroom to applications the Air Force needs now,” Shelton said. “It’s important to note that Gonzaga’s new five-year strategic plan focuses on applied technology in service not only to our students, but to our communities and our country. This Education Partnership Agreement is a testament to that commitment.”

“Not only does this open doors for students and faculty to the Department of Defense laboratory system, but Fairchild personnel will also be able to explore a host of educational opportunities throughout Gonzaga’s curriculum,” said Dr. Karlene Hoo, dean of GU’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. “This is a win-win for Gonzaga and Fairchild alike.”

“Fairchild Innovation Office is thrilled to formalize our partnership with Gonzaga as it provides opportunities for students to solve real world problems by creating new technology to meet our needs,” said Master Sgt. Lehman, Innovation Cell Superintendent. “Together, we will provide invaluable opportunities for personal and professional development for members in our local community.”

STEM students working with the GU Fairchild Air Force Base Partnership.
Following the signing ceremony, Fairchild leadership toured Gonzaga’s Mechanical Technology Center, where students manufacture prototypes for senior design projects.

“I think this collaboration between Gonzaga and the Air Force is a great opportunity to give students hands-on experience, which is vital to helping students develop as engineers,” said mechanical engineering major Preston Ernst. Ernst and classmates Cameron O’Kelley, Austen Schunk, and William Wenstrand are currently developing an advanced fuel transfer pump for use in Air Force tankers and were on hand to share their design with Fairchild brass.

“This is an exchange of ideas,” said Capt. Friedrich Martin. “If the school has an idea they can bring to the base, it’s good for the school and good for us at Fairchild as well.”

According to the proclamation, the landmark agreement is designed to foster and elevate science, mathematics, and engineering education for Gonzaga students and faculty.

“At the heart of this partnership lies a shared commitment to nurturing talent, advancing knowledge, and empowering the next generation of leaders in STEM fields. By pooling together our expertise, capabilities, and resources, we aim to cultivate a dynamic educational ecosystem that propels students and faculty towards excellence.

“We believe that this partnership will not only benefit our respective institutions but also contribute significantly to the advancement of science, mathematics, and engineering on a broader scale. Together, we embark on a journey of discovery, learning, and transformation, united by a shared vision of excellence and progress.”

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