AFA, KHS foster relationship through STEM

For more than seven years, the Ramstein Air Force Association Chapter 507 has fostered a strong and reliable relationship within the Kaiserslautern Military Community and especially with the Kaiserslautern High School. The AFA mentorship program is currently teamed-up with KHS’ National Technical Honor Society to provide a variety of focus areas. Ken Robinson, KHS NTHS sponsor, provides subject-matter expertise on a variety of areas to include the KHS Information Technology Certification Program, CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense competition and the StellarXplorers National Space Challenge.

In addition to those activities, the KHS NTHS program conducts two Project Horizon events during the school year in which students design, engineer and build a high-altitude balloon payload equipped with several cameras and sensors for reading the earth’s atmospheric conditions. At an altitude of more than 100,000 feet, the KHS team performs numerous scientific experiments to include the effects of solar radiation, Mars compatibility studies and more.

The data is processed and interpreted into meaningful information that the students use to validate or invalidate hypotheses. This true interdisciplinary project brings science, technology, engineering and mathematics components together as students develop real solutions to relevant issues of both scope and complexity. The AFA’s part­nership with KHS is a valued endeavor to successfully accomplish their mission goals of educating, advocating, and supporting stem education in support of the Air Force Family and promote aerospace education.

The AFA has supported KHS on multiple occasions through monetary sponsorships and direct involvement in their Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, StellarXplorers, IT certifications, CyberPatriot and Project Horizon campaigns. On Dec. 16, the Ramstein Chapter coordinated a unique opportunity to provide a mentoring visit from a lifelong science and engineering enthusiast, Dr. Jay Simpson. Simpson has held a variety of positions during his professional career including Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories where he was part of a team that developed specialty optical fiber and optical amplifiers for telecommunications. He held a Technical Manager position at Lucent Technologies as well as Senior Director of Photonics, Amplifiers and Fiber at the Ciena Corporation before becoming a Technical Director and Program Manager for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.

Simpson is responsible for 80 publications and 15 patents in the field of optical fiber technology and authored books on the subject. The AFA and KHS partnership has led to Simpson becoming an adjunct STEM advisor to the students as they explore a variety of experiments throughout the school year. During his recent visit, Simpson covered his autobiography and discussed the scientific process from inception to production with insight into industry practices. He also met with the STEM students for hands-on activities.The next high-altitude balloon launch is scheduled for March 2020. Currently, the KHS STEM program is soliciting mentors for IT subjects such as: Windows Systems Security (STIG Implementation), Linux Systems Security, Raspberry Pi and Arduino microcontroller integration. If you are a subject-matter expert in these areas or would like to get involved with the AFA mentoring program, reach out to the Ramstein Chapter 507 council at or To learn more about becoming an AFA member and how you can get involved visit, and select Ramstein Chapter 507.