Empowering Education Through Collaboration: 200 STEM Kits

Recognizing the significance of STEM education, Doolittle Institute STEM Outreach (DI STEM), in collaboration with the United Way Emerald Coast, recently embarked on an inspiring journey to help make a difference in critical first days of school for students at Meigs Middle School. Through their joint efforts, they successfully provided 100 STEM kits, creating a ripple effect of positive change in the local community.

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Doolittle Institute Welcomes New Director

NICEVILLE, FLORIDA – Doolittle Institute is excited to announce that Mike Edwards has joined the DI team as our New Director. 

A seasoned leader, Edwards draws on 22 years of military experience, most of which was serving in the Air Force Special Operations Command. He spent the majority of his career in the AC-130U gunship at Hurlburt Field and has numerous deployments in support of combat missions in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Edwards received a Masters of Military Operational Arts and Science from Air University and, after retiring from the Air Force in 2017, continued to serve in several defense corporate roles for five years. 

Focused on the Air Force customer and DI personnel, Edwards hopes “to build a cohesive team that continues to support AFRL for many years to come!”  

As Director of Doolittle Institute, Mr. Edwards will oversee administration, programs, and strategic plans. He will also uphold fiscal integrity and the terms of the Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA), a contract between DEFENSEWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), to license and commercialize AFRL/RW technologies in the private sector through technology transfer, identify and foster new R&D partnerships through innovation and collaboration, and develop today’s students into tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

“We are happy to have Mike Edwards join the DEFENSEWERX and Doolittle Institute family,” states DEFENSEWERX CEO, Brian Liesveld. “With his extensive military career, vast knowledge in strategic communication, operational leadership, legislative affairs, and an experienced weapons instructor, Mike will prove to be a valuable asset to the future of Doolittle Institute.” 

Edwards is married to Col Denise Edwards and has two daughters, Kaitlyn (20) and Emily (18). He spends his free time with family or fishing and is an avid cyclist. 

Global Future Speaker Series: China 2.0

On April 21, 2022, the Doolittle Institute hosted the 3rd installment of the ongoing Global Futures Speakers series. This segment, titled Global Future Speaker Series: China 2.0 edition, followed the previous installment featuring Gordon Chang. Located in the Doolittle Institute’s auditorium, this hybrid event included presentations and Q&A with returning speaker Gordon Chang and a first-time presentation from Cleo Paskal. Gordon Chang is an expert on China, Asia, nuclear proliferation, and the relationship between China and the United States. Cleo Paskal is widely published in the academic and popular press, is a regular media commentator, and has briefed a wide range of organizations, including the Department of State; U.S. Army War College; U.S. Air Force; U.S. National Guard; Center for Homeland Defense & Security; Inter-American Defense Board.

This conversation offered members of the public and the Air Force a unique insight into a variety of topics, such as analysis of U.S. foreign policy, motivations of China and other countries in the Indo-China region, and potential responses to China’s threat in science & technology (S&T) dominance.

The Doolittle Institute hopes to facilitate additional Global Future Speakers Series conversations in the future that can provide attendees with valuable insight into global perspectives.

For a recording of the event, visit DI’s YouTube channel here.

View Gordon Chang’s recommended reading list here

Inaugural 2022 DAF Modeling & Simulation Summit

This spring, Doolittle Institute hosted the Inaugural Department of the Air Force Modeling and Simulation Summit. The event, held 12-14 April 2022 at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center, was sponsored by Mr. Richard Tempalski (DAF Chief Modeling & Simulation Officer) and Dr. Craig Ewing (AFRL Modeling & Simulation Senior Scientist). Attendance totaled over 350 and included representatives from many organizations in the Air Force, Space Force, Army, and Navy. Also in attendance were partners from Industry, Academia, the UK’s Royal Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  

Each morning, the Summit kicked off with a plenary session, with audience members hearing from 23 keynote speakers and panelists over the event’s three days. Panel topics included: Convergence of Effects Modeling Simulation & Analysis and Mission Success; Enabling SecAF Initiatives Through Digital Engineering and Modeling & Simulation; and Synthetic Environments: Many Uses & Commonality Potential. Some organizations represented by keynotes and panelists included: SAF/SA; SAF/AQ; AFRL; Naval Surface Warfare Center; Army Futures Command; USSF; DAF Digital Transformation Office; Gartner; Lockheed Martin; SAF/SQ; AFLCMC; AFTC; DHS; HAF AF/A3T and AF/TE; and RAF Air and Space Warfare Center.

Over 100 presentations across eight tracks took place in the afternoons during the Summit. Tracks included: Digital Engineering for Convergence of Effects for M&S; Command & Control; Human-Machine Teaming; Sensor Grid; Resilient Space in Joint All-Domain Operations; Effectors; Warfighter Integration; and M&S Techniques/Analyses.

The Inaugural DAF M&S Summit was a monumental success and received a multitude of commendations from attendees. Many from government and industry expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to collaborate and gave feedback about how valuable the event was.

FLL State Championship 2022

On April 2nd forty teams geared up to compete for points and prestige at the FIRST FLL Challenge State Championship! Hosted by the Doolittle Institute, this mechanized marvel of an event took place from 8 am to 4 pm at the Northwest Florida State College Raider arena attracting 1200 attendees.

Over 400 student participants traveled from five regions across Florida to put their coding and design skills to the test on a sixteen-mission robotics course. As they competed to become state champions, these teams showed off team spirit with colorful costumes and exciting chants.

Teams also had a unique opportunity to engage and interact with DoD branches and FIRST robotics programs at the event. This included Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians, Naval Surface Warfare professionals, AFRL Engineers, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics competition teams.

In addition, over fifty volunteers came together by helping to set up, run, and break down the event. Many of these volunteers work as scientists and engineers for the Air Force Research Lab on Eglin Air Force Base. Thank you to everyone who helped make this a memorable event for students and parents alike!

For more photos from the FLL Challenge State Championship, please visit the Doolittle Institute STEM outreach Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DoolittleInstituteSTEM.

For more information on the FIRST programs, visit https://doolittleinstitute.org/stem/.

FLL Explore Festival 2022

The theme of transportation was the focus for elementary students on Friday, February 18th at the FLL Explore Festival, and they certainly delivered!

The festival took place at the Doolittle Institute and hosted 18 teams from Niceville, Crestview, Defuniak Springs, Panama City Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, and other surrounding areas. Over 250 participants enjoyed STEM activities, interacting with other teams, and experiencing the excitement of an in-person Explore festival.

This year’s theme of Cargo Connect prompted teams to design and engineer a Lego model in response to supply chain challenges. Each team presented core values through a poster presentation and demonstrated their motorized Lego model, receiving feedback from volunteer reviewers. The FLL Explore Festival is one facet of the Doolittle Institute’s STEM outreaches as we seek to develop STEM in the next generation.

For more photos from the FLL Explore Festival, please visit the Doolittle Institute STEM outreach Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DoolittleInstituteSTEM.

For more information on the FIRST programs, visit https://doolittleinstitute.org/stem/.

FIRST® Tech Challenge 2022

Eight teams of middle school and high school students came together from across Northwest Florida to compete with their team’s robot at the FIRST® Tech Challenge league tournament held at Crestview High School in Crestview Florida, on Saturday, January 29th. Teams competed with their robots to perform complex maneuvers, earn points, and avoid penalties.

This year’s challenge was released in September of 2021.  Throughout the year students develop and utilize a range of technical skills to prepare for the competition. They practice engineering, coding, and designing, as well as learn life skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. One coach shared “the student’s ability to overcome problems…during the event is really key and…gives them really great life skills moving forward to overcome those issues.”

Congratulations to Team 15297 – Legacy for winning the Inspire Award and the opportunity to compete at the next competition.  Three teams are advancing to the State Championship, on March 4th in Winter Haven where they will compete in a 48-team event for the chance to advance to the World Championship in April.  Two Florida teams will advance.

 FIRST® students enjoyed the excitement of the in-person tournament allowing them to assemble within the STEM community. One student shared, “I learned…about how the design process works and collaborating with other people…trying to put the best parts of everybody’s ideas into a coherent design and making that design into a reality.”

The Doolittle Institute delivers FIRST® Tech Challenge in NWFL with the goal of developing the next generation of STEM students. Events are supported by volunteers from the DoD and the local community. 

To see photos from the event please visit Doolittle Institute STEM outreach Facebook page HERE.

For more information on the FIRST program, visit HERE.