AFRL Physicist Introduces Students to the Stars

Jun 22, 2016

This March, Dr. Ryan Swindle of Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Maui Detachment, received the Department of Defense STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education
and Outreach Advocate Award for his dedication to STEM education in the Maui community. “Swindle has established himself as a role model and leader in STEM outreach and educational efforts in K-12 activities, teacher education, and internship programs,” said Dr. Stacie Williams, former AFRL STEM Outreach Director. “His accomplishments in the Maui community are numerous.”
Swindle, a research physicist at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site (AMOS), worked with the University of Hawaii to acquire a 50-person planetarium. “Our new AFRL 50+ capacity, portable, digital planetarium demonstrates to students and educators, the importance of ground-based astronomy across the world,” Swindle said. Recently, at the 2016 Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Hawaii STEM Conference, he brought the planetarium to teach students how to understand astronomical coordinate systems, use important points to find stars, planets, and even satellites. Additionally, this year Swindle provided physics laboratory demonstrations for over 60 students and parents at a local school and attended school career days. He is also mentoring two college students this summer, one from the University of Hawaii, Hilo and the other from the University of Arizona.
“My vision for the future of the AMOS STEM Outreach program is to build upon the efforts of our former STEM Outreach Director, Dr. Stacie Williams,” said Swindle. “Her great work is known all over the County of Maui.” Swindle hopes to continue efforts with K-12 optics, lasers, and color and light activities, as well as annual participation in AMOS Space Exploration Day and the MEDB STEM Conference. “Partnering with MEDB, AFRL hopes to increase public awareness of the AMOS mission, extend outreach efforts to neighbor islands, and inspire local students to work in Hawaii,” he said.
“MEDB looks forward to our future work with Swindle,” said Mapu Quitazol, MEDB Program Manager Women in Technology (WIT) Project. “His insights and leadership inspire future collaborations with WIT’s STEM education outreach programs.”