Keynote speakers representing the Air Force, Army, and Navy provided inspirational speeches throughout the symposium to an audience of about 240 high school students, who successfully qualified for attendance through forty-eight regional competitions held on university campuses nationwide, and about 160 teachers, parents and chaperones.
In his opening keynote presentation entitled, "Innovation: Where Do We Go from Here", Dr. Alok Das, Chief Scientist of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate, discussed innovations that are shaping the future such as space tourism.
"I'm pretty sure in the very near future we'll have clothing that adapts to temperature outside," Das said.
"You can be sure that you'll have wearable computers as well," he said. "Space tourism is growing and New Mexico is right in the middle of that, but in the near future, only a few rich people will be able to go.
"It is impossible to predict innovations 100 years from now, but we can look at 20 or 30 years from now, and you are at the heart of that, Das emphasized. "You are the people that are going to make that happen."
Aside from listening to the keynotes and participating in the student competition presentations, the students also took part in roundtable discussions led by research professionals from organizations such as Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate, the Naval Research Laboratory, the National Laboratories, the Glaciological & Arctic Science Institute, and the University of Arizona, among others.
Topics included: "Nanotechnology"," What You Can Do with a Chemistry Degree", "What Sequencing the Human Genome Code Could Mean to You", among others.
Additionally students had the opportunity to participate in one of several educational tours hosted by Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy and Space Vehicles Directorates, such as the Directed Energey Directorate's Starfire Optical Range and the Laser and High Powered Microwave Divisions; the Space Vehicles Directorate's satellite components and testing facilities, and the Air Force 58th Special Operations Wing where students got a close-up, hands-on view of the C-130 airplane, and the new CV-22 Osprey Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft.
This year's event was hosted by Air Force Research Laboratory with three of its 10 Directorates – Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Directed Energy Directorate, and Space Vehicles Directorate – coordinating activities and providing speakers and other support.
The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium program promotes original research and experimentation in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement.
By connecting talented students, their teachers, and research professionals at affiliated symposia and by rewarding research excellence, the symposium aims to widen the pool of trained talent prepared to conduct research and development vital to our nation.