Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship for Veterans

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The Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship allows some eligible Veterans and dependents in high-demand fields to extend their Post-9/11 GI Bill or Fry Scholarship benefits. Read below to find out if you’re eligible for up to 9 months (or $30,000) of added benefits and how to apply.

Am I eligible for the Rogers STEM Scholarship (GI Bill extension)?

You may be eligible for this scholarship as a Veteran or a Fry Scholar if you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate STEM degree program or qualifying dual-degree program, or
  • You’ve earned a post-secondary degree or a graduate degree in an approved STEM degree field and are enrolled in a covered clinical training program for health care professionals, or
  • You’ve earned a post-secondary degree in an approved STEM degree field and are working toward a teaching certification
  • Full eligibility requirements

    To be eligible, you need to meet all of the requirements listed here for your situation.

    If you’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate STEM degree or qualifying dual-degree program,

    All of these must be true:

    • You’re enrolled in a qualifying undergraduate STEM degree program that requires at least 120 standard semester credit hours (or 180 quarter credit hours) to complete, and
    • You’ve completed at least 60 standard credit hours (or 90 quarter credit hours) toward your degree, and
      You have 6 months or less of your Post-9/11 GI Bill (or Fry Scholarship) benefits left.

    To find out how much of your benefits you have left, check your Post-9/11 GI Bill Statement of Benefits.

    Note: You can’t use the STEM scholarship for graduate degree programs at this time.

    If you’re enrolled in a covered clinical training program for health care professionals

    All of these must be true:

    • You’ve earned a qualifying degree in a STEM field, and
    • You’ve been accepted or are enrolled in a covered clinical training program for health care professionals, and
    • You have 6 months or less of your Post-9/11 GI Bill (or Fry Scholarship) benefits left. To find out how much of your benefits you have left, check your Post-9/11 GI Bill Statement of Benefits.

    If you’re working toward a teaching certification

    All of these must be true:

    • You’ve earned a qualifying post-secondary degree in a STEM field, and
    • You’ve been accepted or are enrolled in a teaching certification program, and
    • You have 6 months or less of your Post-9/11 GI Bill (or Fry Scholarship) benefits left. To find out how much of your benefits you have left, check your Post-9/11 GI Bill Statement of Benefits

    How we prioritize scholarships

    If you meet these eligibility requirements, we can’t guarantee that you’ll receive the Rogers STEM scholarship.

    We give priority to Veterans and Fry Scholars who:

    • Are eligible for the maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit (100% level), and
    • Require the most credit hours compared to other applicants
    • Which degree programs can I use this scholarship for?

    You can use this scholarship for undergraduate degree programs in these subject areas:

    • Agriculture science or natural resources science
    • Biological or biomedical science
    • Computer and information science and support services
    • Engineering, engineering technologies, or an engineering-related field
    • Health care or a health-care-related field
    • Mathematics or statistics
    • Medical residency (undergraduate only)
    • Physical science
    • Science technologies or technicians

    Download the full list of eligible STEM degree programs (PDF)

    Note: We updated this full list of eligible programs in March 2021.

    How do I apply for the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship?

    You can apply online right now. The online application should take you about 15 minutes to complete.

    What happens after I apply for this scholarship?

    We usually make a decision about each scholarship within 30 days. We award scholarships on a monthly basis. If we need more information from you to make a decision, we’ll send you a letter.

    If we approve your application, you’ll get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in the mail. This is also called a decision letter. Bring this COE to the VA certifying official at your school. This person is usually in the registrar’s, financial aid, or Veteran’s office at the school.

    If we don’t approve your application, you’ll get a denial letter in the mail.

    What’s STEMText?

    We use STEMText to communicate with you about your Rogers STEM Scholarship benefits through text messages.

    If you receive the Rogers STEM Scholarship, we’ll send an opt-in text message to your primary phone number. We’ll ask if you’d like to receive updates about your VA STEM benefits by text message. To participate, respond “yes” within 7 days of receiving this message.

    You can also use STEMText to verify your attendance each month. Verifying by text instead of email can help you get your housing payments faster. We’ll send you a text message each month asking if you attended your STEM courses. To verify, just respond “yes.”

    Go to our STEMText video (YouTube) to learn more.

    Read the complete article posted on the VA Website.

Vietnam War veteran receives HS diploma 55 years later

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Vietnam war veteran awarded high school diploma 55 years later.

By Katya Guillaume, Baynews9.com

Commander Richard Hunt’s story starts in Downtown Inverness. Looking out at the fallen soldiers’ statue outside of the visitor’s center, thanking the brave fallen soldiers and remembering his time serving in the Vietnam War.

“It takes me back to that time when I lost a lot of friends,” he told Bay News 9’s Katya Guillaume. He wasn’t even 18 years old.

“At 17, I left high school,” he said. “Volunteered for the service. It took both parents to consent to that. They agreed that was going to be the best thing because when I turned 18, I was gonna go anyway.”

As the son of a Navy Korean Veteran, that was the path of life.

“Presidential order required that I be 18 before I could go into combat and I was in combat shortly after my 18th birthday for Tet Offensive 1968,” he continued.

Things were much different back then, when it came to enlisting.

He continued, “While I was in Vietnam, I took my high school equivalency, the GED, and passed it.”

He left his high school days behind him, never graduating and moving on with his life, until a particular afternoon just a few weeks ago.

“In conversation with Darrick Buettner of the school district here in Citrus County,” he said, “working on another project, he asked me whether I might know or not of a young veteran who would like to receive a high school diploma.”

In 2013, Florida lawmakers passed legislation that states the Commissioner of Education may award a standard high school diploma to any honorably discharged veteran who has not completed high school graduation requirements.

“I said no,” he continued, “because currently the folks that go into service have to have a high school education to get, but I said I know of a Vietnam veteran.”

It took no time for Citrus County school officials to include the commander in Citrus High School’s 2022 graduation ceremony.

“Somebody had to be peeling onions because something was leaking from my eyes when all that had to happen,” the commander said.

Click here to read more on baynews9.com.

Military veteran graduates from college alongside his daughter

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NORFOLK, Va. – A father and daughter from Portsmouth, Virginia, are now bonded by their college graduations from the same school and on the same day.

Marvin Fletcher, a retired U.S. Marine and Army veteran, told Fox News Digital that he was shocked when he found out that both he and his daughter SaNayah Hill, 17, would be graduating from Tidewater Community College at the same time.

In a phone interview, Fletcher said he felt overwhelming pride when he learned that his daughter had completed her career studies certificate in emergency medical service as a dual-enrollment student — before even finishing her junior year at Deep Creek High School.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity that TCC afforded myself, as well as other veterans, and my daughter,” Fletcher said.

He earned his associate’s degree in applied science in management after serving for four years in the Marine Corps and eight years in the Army.

Fletcher added, “I’m humbled and honored to have served. And I like the fact that my daughter wants to serve in the medical field in her own way.”

The father-daughter pair completed their graduation march on Monday, May 9, at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.

Click here to read the full article on FOX.

Nebraska teen accepted to all five military academies; sets out to serve America

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Noble Rassmussen holding military hats

By Angelica Stabile, FOX News

High school senior Noble Rasmussen intends to serve his country well — and all five U.S. military academies seem to agree.

The Nebraska teen joined “Fox & Friends” on Friday to celebrate his acceptance to all five academies.

He then announced on the program that he’ll be attending the United States Air Force Academy in June.

Rasmussen, a cadet with the Civil Air Patrol, said that his interest in applying to each school was sparked from a desire to represent and serve the United States as a whole.

“I want to serve my country the best I can,” he said. “So applying to all academies [presented] the option to serve anywhere.”

“I feel like it’s my duty to serve my country.”

VIDEO: Watch the interview on FOX & Friends

While the “noble” sentiment of military service complements Rasmussen’s first name nicely, his mother, Cheri Rasmussen, said that was his parents’ exact intention when they named him.

“Our prayer for him his whole life was just to have that noble character of honor, honesty and integrity,” she said. “Just to kind of rise above and have that high moral principle.”

“God has blessed us with that, and we see those qualities of leadership and maturity in Noble.”

Continue to Fox News to read the complete article.

Fort Leavenworth Military spouse continues education at 49

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Kate Hanlen posing outdoors in flowery dress smiling

Great Bend Tribune

When Kate Hanlen went on a mission trip to Honduras at the age of 19, she didn’t know she would discover her career calling that would be 30 years in the making.

“We were there to help build buildings and paint mostly,” she said. “One day there was this six-year-old girl that was on the other side of a fence, and she spoke Spanish and I did not, but she showed me her leg and it had a big wound on it. I ran and grabbed a medical kit we had, and I didn’t know very much but I helped her as much as I could and I thought ‘Lord, if this is what you’re calling me to, I embrace it.’ Since that day, I’ve always prayed that my hands will be used to help as many people as possible.”

That pivotal moment caused Hanlen to enroll in nursing school, but after two years she wasn’t sure exactly in what specific arena she wanted continue helping people so, she enlisted in the Army reserves and served as a combat medic for eight years. During that time, she met her husband who was active duty and they married in 1995. Over the next 26 years, they had six children and traveled the world as a military family with her often handling all the parental duties when her husband was on deployments.

“We’ve traveled all over the world,” she said. “However, the needs of our family were always my treasure. I wanted to be with my kids, make our house a home since we did move so much.”

With her husband retired and four of her kids out of the house and the youngest two not far behind, Hanlen realized her amazing journey as a mother was going to transition into a stage that would allow her time to focus on herself.

Her son had utilized Barton’s LSEC courses in high school at Fort Leavenworth so he could graduate college more quickly. These classes are offered on scholarship to soldiers and their families that are stationed at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.

“My son and I came down to the Army Education Center and we couldn’t believe we were able to take these classes at no charge, she said. “I kept asking them ‘Are you sure a bill for thousands of dollars isn’t going to show up in a few months?’”

Of course, no bill ever showed up, and now Hanlen is utilizing Barton’s LSEC classes at Fort Leavenworth to fill in some gaps on her transcript that she needs to finish her pre-requisites before transferring to St. Mary’s University to finish her nursing school. At that time, she hopes to find a job in hospice care.

Read the complete article here.

Rhodes Scholar Excels on All Fronts

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Established in 1902, after the passing of Cecil John Rhodes, the Rhodes Scholarship has sought out some of the world’s most outstanding young leaders to pursue a complete expense paid education at the University of Oxford. Over a hundred years later, the scholarships are the oldest and one of the most prestigious academic honors in the world.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen based on high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor. The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree pursued, and the college chosen.

This year, out of the 820 applicants chosen to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship, only 32 were awarded, including to Midshipman 1st Class Senior, Sarah Skinner, of the U.S. Naval Academy. She will be the Naval Academy’s 54th Rhodes Scholar.

Skinner is an honors political science major, with a Chinese minor, at the U.S. Naval Academy. Her honors research is aimed at evaluating the overall effectiveness of middle power nations and middle power institutions in mitigating hegemonic competition and conflict between the U.S. and China. This past summer, she studied Taiwanese virtually through National Taiwan University.

Additionally, Skinner has held numerous leadership positions at the Naval Academy, including her current position as the 21st Company commander, where she oversees 150 midshipmen. She has previously served as both the 21st Company drill sergeant and honor sergeant. Skinner is also the Navy Women’s Rugby team captain, was selected to play for the USA’s Rugby Olympic Development Program, and a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society.

Skinner is a 2018 graduate of Marist School in Brookhaven, Georgia, and she plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy in international relations at Oxford University. Her education and transportation to and from England will be covered entirely through her scholarship. After completing the Rhodes Scholarship program, Skinner will continue her naval service in the surface warfare community.

Source: The U.S. Naval Academy, The Rhodes Trust

Your Top GI Bill Questions Answered

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Whether you’re already utilizing your GI Bill benefits or looking to begin using it as part of an educational New Years’ resolution, you may have questions about how to get the most out of your benefits. Here are some of your most popular GI Bill questions, answered.

I need to apply. How do I do that, and what do I need?

Applying for the GI Bill can be done in a variety of ways. One of the easiest ways to do so is online at www.va.gov/education/how-to-apply/, but if you prefer, you could do it by mail or in person at your local VA office. Accredited representatives are also available to help you apply for your benefits should you need them. You will need to bring your social security number, bank account direct deposit information, and an understanding of your education and military history to complete the application.

I am enrolled in school. When will I receive my benefits from VA?

You will generally receive payment within two weeks of verifying your enrollment at the end of the month (or within one week if using direct deposit), but many things affect when you receive your payments. Your school must submit your enrollment to VA for processing to begin. If it’s the first time you are using benefits, it will take longer to process your payment than if you are re-enrolling. In general, it takes about a month to process an original claim and about a week for a re-enrollment. If VA needs to verify your service, things such as remarks from your certifying official on your enrollment can make processing longer. Processing times are longer in the fall than during other terms due to the volume of claims VA receives.

If you are receiving benefits under Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty (MGIB-AD/Chapter 30) or Montgomery GI Bill — Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR/Chapter 1606), you must also verify your enrollment at the end of each month to receive payment for that month. Benefits are paid after each month of school is completed.

How does the Post 9/11 GI Bill affect active duty veterans?

Veterans who have served at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge will qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. To be eligible for the full benefit, a veteran must have served at least three years of active duty after September 10, 2001. Those who qualify for the MGIB-AD or the MGIB-SR will have the option to choose which benefit best suits their need.

The correlation between time served and the percentage of the maximum benefit payable is as follows:

    36 months or received a Purple Heart: 100%
    30 continuous days on active duty and discharged due to service-connected disability: 100%
    At least 30 months, but less than 36 months: 90%
    At least 24 months, but less than 30 months: 80%
    At least 18 months, but less than 24 months: 70%
    At least six months, but less than 18 months: 60%
    At least 90 days, but less than six months: 50%

What type of active duty counts for a Reserve or Guard member regarding the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

The following active duty qualifies for Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility:

  • All Title 10 active duty supporting named contingency operations.
  • Title 32 service for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing or training the National Guard.
  • Title 32 service under section 502(f) for the purpose of responding to a national emergency.
  • All voluntary active duty, with the exception of active duty for medical care and medical evaluation.
  • Title 10 service under 502(f): Title 10 service under 12301(h) for the purpose of receiving service-related medical care.
  • A reservist who receives a Purple Heart for service occurring on or after September 11, 2001.
  • Service under 12304, 12304a, and 12304b orders, mobilization to provide assistance in response to a major disaster or emergency or for preplanned missions in support of combatant commands.
  • Individuals ordered to active duty under section 12301(h) of title 10, USC to receive authorized medical care, to be medically evaluated for disability or other purposes, or to complete a required Department of Defense healthcare study.

All forms of inactive duty training (drills and funeral honors), as well as annual training, do not qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefit.

How do I verify my enrollment?

If you’re receiving the Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty or Selected Reserve, use the Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE) or call our toll-free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone line at 1-877-VA-ECERT (1-877-823-2378) to verify your attendance.

If you’re receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you don’t need to verify your attendance.

Are VA Education Benefits taxable?

No. Any veterans’ benefits paid under any law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should not be reported as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You will not receive a W-2 from the VA. Per IRS Publication 970:

“Payments you receive for education, training, or subsistence under any law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are tax-free. Do not include these payments as income on your federal tax return.

If you qualify for one or more of the education benefits discussed in chapters 2 through 13*, you may have to reduce the amount of education expenses qualifying for a specific benefit by part or all of your VA payments. This applies only to the part of your VA payments that is required to be used for education expenses.”

What if I receive a failing grade in one of my classes?

If you fail a class, you receive a “punitive grade” for that class. A punitive grade is a grade that doesn’t count as earned credit but is used in determining a student’s progress toward graduation requirements. This means that the grade you receive counts in your overall degree progress, albeit negatively. Since this grade counts towards your graduation progress, you are not required to repay any GI Bill money you received for that class.

You may retake the class in an attempt to receive credit towards graduation or raise your grade for the course, and you may receive GI Bill payment for retaking the class.

To learn more about your benefits or to answer any other questions you may have, visit gibill.custhelp.va.gov for more information.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Why Veterans With GI Bill Benefits Still Take Out Student Loans

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servicemember holding school books

Why are so many veterans taking out student loans when GI bill benefits cover full tuition and fees at public universities, and at least partial tuition and fees at private universities?

In new survey results released today, The Pew Charitable Trusts found that most veterans who take out student loans do so to pay living expenses. Even though bill benefits also include stipends to cover books, supplies, and housing allowances, veteran borrowers face unique challenges and often have to juggle additional financial obligations, such as child care.

Nearly 6 in 10 U.S. military veterans who have taken out student loans cite living expenses, such as housing and child care, as their main reason for borrowing, according to a first-of-its-kind, nationally representative survey of veterans who have taken out student loans.

The survey—conducted for The Pew Charitable Trusts among veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001—helps shed light on a key mystery: why so many are taking on student loan debt despite having access to robust Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

A separate Pew analysis done earlier this year using U.S. Department of Education data found that just over a quarter of veterans in undergraduate programs took out loans, with a median amount of $8,000 in the 2015-16 academic year.

The questions in the survey were crafted to give a better sense of how veterans use the borrowed money, including a request to rank the expenses covered with student loan dollars. Among the key findings:

  • 58% of those who took out student loans said they borrowed primarily to cover living expenses. The most commonly cited were housing costs (21%) and day-to-day expenses, such as groceries and child care (17%). (See Figure 1 for more detail.)
  • 42% cited educational expenses as the primary cost they borrowed to cover. Most chose tuition and fees (36%), while a small proportion selected books and supplies (6%).

Read the complete article on Pewtrusts.org

What STEM Careers are in High Demand?

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Have you ever wondered what the outlook might be for your STEM career five or even ten years out? Or maybe you are a current student weighing your options for a chosen career path and need to know the type of degree that is required.

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education labor trends and workforce studies experts have culled through the BLS data and have summarized the outlook for several select STEM careers.

With the right information in-hand — and a prestigious research experience to complement your education — you can increase the confidence you have when selecting a STEM career.

Software Developers
There are over 1,469,000 software developers in the U.S. workforce either employed as systems software developers or employed as applications software developers. Together, employment for software developers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Software developers will be needed to respond to an increased demand for computer software because of an increase in the number of products that use software. The need for new applications on smart phones and tablets will also increase the demand for software developers. Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks. Most jobs in this field require a degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field and strong computer programming skills.

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program from identifying the core functionality that users need from software programs to determining requirements that are unrelated to the functions of the software, such as the level of security and performance. Software developers design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together. This often requires collaboration with other computer specialists to create optimum software.

Atmospheric Scientists
Atmospheric sciences include fields such as climatology, climate science, cloud physics, aeronomy, dynamic meteorology, atmosphere chemistry, atmosphere physics, broadcast meteorology and weather forecasting.

Most jobs in the atmospheric sciences require at least a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or a related field that studies the interaction of the atmosphere with other scientific realms such as physics, chemistry or geology. Additionally, courses in remote sensing by radar and satellite are useful when pursuing this career path.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer models have greatly improved the accuracy of forecasts and resulted in highly customized forecasts for specific purposes. The need for atmospheric scientists working in private industry is predicted to increase as businesses demand more specialized weather information for time-sensitive delivery logistics and ascertaining the impact of severe weather patterns on industrial operations. The demand for atmospheric scientists working for the federal government will be subject to future federal budget constraints. The BLS projects employment of atmospheric scientists to grow by 8 percent over the 2018 to 2028 period. The largest employers of atmospheric scientists and meteorologists are the federal government, research and development organizations in the physical, engineering, and life sciences, state colleges and universities and television broadcasting services.

Electrical and Electronics Engineers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 324,600 electrical and electronics engineers in the U.S. workforce. Workers in this large engineering occupation can be grouped into two large components — electrical engineers and electronics engineers. About 188,300 electrical engineers design, develop, test or supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as power generation equipment, electrical motors, radar and navigation systems, communications, systems and the electrical systems of aircraft and automobiles. They also design new ways to use electricity to develop or improve products. Approximately 136,300 electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications equipment, portable music players, and Global Positioning System devices, as well as working in areas closely related to computer hardware. Engineers whose work is devoted exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers. Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, and internships and co-op experiences are a plus.

The number of jobs for electrical engineers is projected by BLS to grow slightly faster (9 percent) than the average for all engineering occupations in general (8 percent) and faster than for electronics engineers (4 percent) as well. However, since electrical and electronics engineering is a larger STEM occupation, growth in employment is projected to result in over 21,000 new jobs over the 2016-2026 period. The largest employers of electrical engineers are engineering services firms; telecommunications firms; the federal government; electric power generation, transmission and distribution organizations such as public and private utilities; semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturers; organizations specializing in research and development (R&D) in the physical, engineering and life sciences; and navigational, measuring, electro-medical and control systems manufacturers.

BLS notes three major factors influencing the demand for electrical and electronic engineers. One, the need for technological innovation will increase the number of jobs in R&D, where their engineering expertise will be needed to design power distribution systems related to new technologies. They will also play important roles in developing solar arrays, semiconductors and communications technologies, such as 5G. Two, the need to upgrade the nation’s power grids and transmission components will drive the demand for electrical engineers. Finally, a third driver of demand for electrical and electronic engineers is the design and development of ways to automate production processes, such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and Distributed Control Systems (DCS).

Data Science and Data Analysts
Technological advances have made it faster and easier for organizations to acquire data. Coupled with improvements in analytical software, companies are requiring data in more ways and higher quantities than ever before, and this creates many important questions for them, including “Who do we hire to work with this data”? The answer is likely a Data Scientist.

When trying to answer the question “what is data science,” Investopedia defines it as providing “meaningful information based on large amounts of complex data or big data. Data science, or data-driven science, combines different fields of work in statistics and computation to interpret data for decision-making purposes.” This includes data engineers, operations research analysts, statisticians, data analysts and mathematicians.

The BLS projects the employment of statisticians and mathematicians to grow 30 percent from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the source, organizations will increasingly need statisticians to organize and analyze data in order to help improve business processes, design and develop new products and advertise products to potential customers. In addition, the large increase in available data from global internet use has created new areas for analysis such as examining internet search information and tracking the use of social media and smartphones. In the medical and pharmaceutical industries, biostatisticians will be needed to conduct the research and clinical trials necessary for companies to obtain approval for their products from the Food and Drug Administration.

Along with that of statistician, the employment of operations research analysts is projected by the BLS to grow by 26 percent from 2018-2028, again much faster than the average for all occupations. As organizations across all economic sectors look for efficiency and cost savings, they seek out operations research analysts to help them analyze and evaluate their current business practices, supply chains and marketing strategies in order to improve their ability to make wise decisions moving forward. Operations research analysts are also frequently employed by the U.S. Armed Forces and other governmental groups for similar purposes.

To learn more about other flourishing careers in STEM, visit bls.gov/ooh to learn more.

Source: Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education

How VR is Helping Train the U.S. Military

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woman soldier in uniform donning VR goggles

Futuristic training, the kind of immersive simulations seen in sci-fi TV shows, is no longer a fictional dream. It’s almost here.

With the Tech Training Transformation team’s creation of a virtual reality training system coordinated by artificial intelligence, Air Education and Training Command officials are transforming the Airmen development process. At the forefront of this development stand the cruxes of modern technology, high completion rates and an agile speed of learning.

In partnership with officials at Sheppard Air Force Base, the T3 team has re-engineered the foundational Crew Chief Fundamentals Course into a VR experience. In July and August of 2020, 29 students donned VR gear and took the program for a spin. They examined tools, maintained simulated aircraft and completed objectives, all within a 3D, on-the-job environment.
 
The results were impressive. On the end-of-course assessment, scores from students within the program were comparable to those of students using traditional methods. However, both students and instructors commented on the quality of T3’s program, emphasizing how Airmen-centric and approachable the program made the training, and how the personalized modalities built upon AETC’s world-class standards of quality. They also finished the course 46 percent faster, completing the 27-day course in just 12.5 days.

“It’s proven that T3’s program is an effective learning model,” said Senior Master Sgt. Toby Caldwell, 362nd Training Squadron assistant superintendent, who has been actively involved in overseeing T3’s training initiative at Sheppard AFB since the program’s beginning. “As we continue to meet the accelerate-change mission, we in the training environment are teaming up at the forefront of technological enhancements.”

In June 2021, T3 introduced an additional component: non-player characters. Students interact with AI Airmen by asking them questions and receiving instructions within the simulation. For example, a student maintaining an aircraft could have a conversation with an AI security forces Airman patrolling the flight line and learn about safety protocols or ask questions about the area.

This AI interaction will assist with the formation of multi-capable Airmen and agile combat employment, as students will have the ability to essentially swap places with AI characters. A maintainer can learn basic flight line security from an AI security forces Airman, or a security forces Airman could enter the program and familiarize themselves with aircraft maintenance from AI.

The AI system will also continuously measure the student’s ability to complete tasks and foundational competencies, and it will track performance throughout the Airman’s career, not just during technical training. This education-focused career model relies fully on competency-based learning and an Airmen-centric, mission-focused mindset that meets the students where they are.

woman soldier in uniform demonstrates a virtual reality training
Air Force Staff Sgt. Renee Scherf, Detachment 23 curriculum engineer, MC-130H subject matter expert, demonstrates a virtual reality training system. (Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt Keith James)

The T3 team is developing and testing an app for courses that don’t require VR. In the future, Airmen will log in on their phone and begin consuming course information according to their preferred learning style. For example, visual learners can watch videos and audio learners can listen from anywhere, even while on a run. Along the way, the AI capability will personalize the program. For instance, it will provide suggestions like, “Hey, I’ve noticed you listened to the lesson three times but still haven’t scored well on the assessment. Why don’t you try watching this video or completing this exercise instead?”

“This training is all about you,” said Maj. Jesse Johnson, Det 23 and T3 commander. “We’re no longer making you fit our content, we’re changing our content to match your needs. Not only does this program give more resources to students, it also keeps up with a new generation of learners who perform best outside of a traditional classroom. It allows for continued learning and the formation of multi-capable Airmen who can cross-train and expand their skillset anytime, anywhere.”

According to Johnson, this program will bring Air Force training to the cutting edge of education around the globe. He and his colleagues credit this success to the strong network of partnerships across the Air Force.

“Our plan is to partner with Air Combat Command’s Agile Battle Labs and with AETC’s Force Development Team to develop the agile combat employment, multi-capable Airmen training philosophy,” said Col. Leonard Rose, AETC’s Analysis and Innovation director.

The T3 team views training instructors, or force generators, as a first line of partnership. The initiative aims to empower instructors by eliminating the need to lecture at length, allowing them to focus on facilitating and answering questions instead of fitting into the typical “teacher” mold.

This kind of student-centered instruction flips the traditional teaching method, where instructors stand at the center of the learning process distributing information to students, on its head. In a student-centric model, students have the power to explore and learn through discovery and practice while instructors act as mentors and coaches.

Learner-centric initiatives and an improved training infrastructure speed up the training pipeline by allowing Airmen to progress at the speed of learning. It’s creating more well-rounded Airmen who are better prepared for an era of great power competition, and developing a more resilient training enterprise that can continue to operate in disrupted environments.
 
“We’re excited to continue utilizing virtual and augmented reality to enhance our technical training courses here at Sheppard AFB,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason C. Groth, 82nd Training Group superintendent. “I think this type of training capability could also eventually be used to help train our multi-capable Airmen in austere locations.”

Plans are in place for two fully operational courses to launch at Sheppard AFB in 2022 with additional courses to follow. The two initial courses will be Crew Chief Fundamentals (2AX01 Air Force specialty code) and Logistics Planning (2G0X1 Air Force specialty code). The order for updates to training courses is determined according to requirements necessary to grow multi-capable Airmen.

Source: U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense

Top photo:  Air Force Staff Sgt. Renee Scherf, Detachment 23 curriculum engineer, MC-130H subject matter expert, dons virtual reality goggles. (Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Keith James)

Answering Your Top Questions on the Yellow Ribbon Program

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The Yellow Ribbon Program, as many veterans turned students know, is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that can help cover the expenses that do not automatically apply for veterans.

Unlike the GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program acts similarly to a scholarship, in that it must be met by certain criteria and enter into an agreement between your school and the Department of Veteran Affairs. This provision, though helpful, can come with a lot of questions on its proceedings. Here are some of the top questions on the Yellow Ribbon Program, answered.

What do I need to qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

To qualify to receive the Yellow Ribbon benefits a veteran must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Served at least 36 months on active duty (either all at once or with breaks in service)
  • Received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any amount of service
  • Served for at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break) on or after September 11, 2001, and were discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability
  • Are a dependent child using benefits transferred by a Veteran or a service member who has served for at least 36 months on active duty and qualifies at the 100% level
  • Are a Fry Scholar (eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program on or after August 1, 2018

What does my school need to qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

For schools to eligible in the Yellow Ribbon Program, they must adhere to all of the following criteria:

  • Must be an institution of higher learning
  • Offers the Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Hasn’t offered the Yellow Ribbon benefit to more than the maximum number of students in their agreement with the VA
  • Has certified your enrollment with the VA and provided Yellow Ribbon Program information

How do benefits work through the program?

Money to help pay for the higher cost of tuition at a private school or for attendance as a nonresident student at a public school. If you qualify, your school will contribute a certain amount toward your extra tuition and fees through a grant, scholarship, or similar program. Whatever contribution is provided will be matched by the VA.
Do all students in the Yellow Ribbon Program receive the same amount of funding?

This depends on the school. Schools can choose to offer different amounts to students based on 2 factors:

  • Student status (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral), and
  • Type of school (college or professional)

For example, a school could provide $1,000 for undergraduates, $1,500 for graduate students and $2,000 for doctoral students. The school also could provide $1,800 for students in the school of engineering and $2,500 for students in the school of nursing.

Will all of my tuition and fees be paid if my school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

This depends on the agreement we have with your school. Your school’s agreement with the VA states how much it will contribute and how much we’ll match. This amount makes up all or part of the difference between what the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay and the unmet tuition and fees.

What fees will the program cover?

The Yellow Ribbon Program may cover any required fees to your education. This does not include penalty fees, room and board, and study abroad programs that are not required to your graduation.

Do I have to attend full time to be in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

No, part-time students may also qualify.

If I participate in the program this year, will I automatically receive the same amount of funding next year?

Yes, as long as you stay enrolled without interruption.

If I leave my school, but return after a semester, am I still approved for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

If the school still offers the program, they must continue to give you funding as long as you meet all of the requirements listed below:

  • Make acceptable progress toward completing your school
  • Stay enrolled in the school without a break (following the school’s policy)
  • Have money left in your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

Source: Wikipedia and the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. Multiple Hire GI Hiring Events During June-December!
    June 21, 2022 - December 8, 2022
  4. San Diego Unified Construction Expo 2022
    July 13, 2022
  5. Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo
    July 14, 2022