HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Future Air Force scientists and engineers visited Hill recently during a Science & Engineering Palace Acquire Operational Training Assignment, which involved a base tour and briefings on Hill’s science and engineering workplaces Sept. 17-22.
Science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, job fields are in high demand all over the world and it can be challenging for the U.S. government to compete with the private sector to entice and retain qualified STEM employees.
The Air Force has a unique advantage with their S&E PAQ program that enables the service to provide entry-level STEM opportunities to individuals outside of the Air Force and also identify and educate future leaders in STEM fields.
During the three-year paid internship, the Air Force provides tuition for the participants to complete their Master of Science degree. A two-year on-the-job training program is also available for those who already have their master’s.
According to David Berg, Hill’s S&E PAQ program manager, the program was established to boost the Air Force’s ability to maintain a leading edge in today’s technology-intensive environment by hiring dynamic, creative, and innovative scientists and engineers.
Berg said Team Hill happens to have more S&E PAQ participants than any other location in the Air Force. Currently there are 147 individuals in the program at Hill.
“Our mission here at Hill is enticing for young engineers,” he said. “They are able to be a part of cutting-edge technology while supporting our nation’s warfighters.”
Every year, Team Hill looks to fill more than 200 STEM positions. In fiscal 2018, the target was 261 engineers and Berg said they came close to meeting that goal.
Berg said, “The PAQ program is an integral part of our recruitment strategy. By utilizing this program, we are able to recruit and attract talented engineers into our workforce.”
While many of Hill’s PAQ participants do stay on at Hill upon completion of their training, hosting a base visit allows for PAQs in their final year from other locations to see what Hill AFB has to offer.
“This event has been, and will continue to be in the future, an opportunity for us to showcase Hill’s technology and world-class capability to young, talented S&E interns in hopes to capture their talent and bring them to Hill to support our engineering sustainment efforts,” said Berg.
During this most recent visit, PAQs were able to tour areas at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex such as the additive manufacturing lab, F-16 production space, landing gear, advanced composites, and software maintenance.
In addition to the PAQ program, the Air Force recruits future STEM employees from universities through the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, scholarship-for-service program, where students receive paid tuition and paid summer internships.
University students can also apply for Premier and Pathway paid internship programs giving them on-the-job experience that could qualify them for permanent full-time careers with the Air Force.
According to Berg, there are approximately 80 S&E interns at Hill involved with SMART, Pathway, and Premier programs. Many continue into the PAQ program.
To apply for a PAQ position or the other internship programs, applicants can search and apply at www.usajobs.gov.
Find more information about the programs at www.afciviliancareers.com under the ‘About’ link and PAQ openings listed at the ‘Find A Job’ link.