Thanks to all of you who responded to my draft white paper on space education at the Academy. In general, your feedback was that the paper can serve as a useful point of departure for discussions between the graduate community and USAFA leadership on this subject. Among your comments:
Capt Kyle Sanders stressed the importance of cadets having the opportunity to get exposed to space material without having to face an overly stressful engineering course load.
Bob Giffen recommended that we might be able to help the graduate community understand how strong the Academy's academic space program really is. It has been widely recognized as the nation's premier undergraduate space program (meeting one of the stated goals!).
Adding to the list of possible activities we can support, Col Mike DeLorenzo expressed significant interest in promoting a one week training period during the (probably second class) summer for all cadets to focus on space. Field trips, speakers, and other hands-on experiences (e.g., "Vomit Comet"?) would be on the agenda. Capt Jeff Ansted has made some specific proposals in this regard (Cheyenne Mtn, Schriever, Buckley, VAFB, etc.). Can any of your provide appropriate contacts? Any other suggestions or proposals of what we could do to support this idea?
Van VanInwegen also proposed this idea, and suggested that these might also be good sites for a Cadet Club to visit. He has also offered to provide displays from TRW.
Cary Clovicko has suggested that cadets get involved in space-related Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTD's).
Regarding specific roles we can play, I have had few volunteers (actually only one) to spearhead some of the initiatives I mentioned in my last message. If you are at all interested, or think you can contribute to their success, please let me know, and we will see what can be done within our collective limitations.
I was also asked about the specifics of my request for donations. Yes, this will be administered by the AOG. Col (ret) Jim Shaw of the AOG staff has agreed to take this role (which is consistent with his other responsibilities). Consequently, donations are tax deductible. Jim has offered to provide us with the Academy's list of needs in the space area, but so far the list hasn't been forwarded from the Academy to the AOG. Of course, the focus of our contributions isn't limited to this list. We will discuss the specifics of how to administer and allocate these funds at the upcoming Board meeting.
I would still appreciate a larger show of hands of those of you willing to make a reasonable donation to help demonstrate our sincerity.
We have confirmed that the next Board meeting will be on May 25 at USAFA. Since, as I noted earlier in a prior memo, I am expecting a fairly small subset of the addressees to attend, the format will not include an extensive repeat of the material that the faculty presented to the Board at our November 1998 meeting, which summarized the current space-related curriculum. In fact, I believe we can have a fruitful interchange in a one-day meeting, so we are not planning any activity for May 26.
The meeting will begin at 0800 at a TBA room in Fairchild Hall. The agenda will include a general discussion and fact-finding session with representatives of the faculty and staff, focussing on the topics I mentioned in my 18 April message (and posted on the web site: members.aol.com/usafaspace/grads), time for discussion among the Board members in attendance, and a feedback session from the Board to the Academy. Col DeLorenzo is inviting the Dean, Commandant, and Superintendent to this final session. We should be done by 1700.
I would appreciate it if those of you planning to attend would once again RSVP, so I can tell Col DeLorenzo how many parking spaces to reserve in the faculty parking area under Fairchild Hall. I will then send you the location of the meeting and a more detailed agenda.
The Air Force is at war, and space systems are playing a major role! Many lessons are being learned, both by the operators and the current and future leadership. At the same time, the USAF and DoD are thinking hard about the future of space activities. We in the graduate community are in a good position to understand these developments and help translate their significance back to USAFA.
Thanks again for your interest and support. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing some of you soon.