Project PELLA: A Dynamic Initiative to Expose, Engage and Enrich the Lives of Students During the Most Critical Year
There is no shortage of information on the critical need to provide students with meaningful, early and on-going exposure to the rapidly evolving fields of STEM. From the highest levels of leadership in Alabama, there is urgency to improve and increase learning of these subjects within schools across the state. With more and more jobs, and even our mere way of engaging daily becoming increasingly technical, students who lack experience in these areas will be left behind in their ability to find substantive employment. Additionally, we must ask ourselves, “what potential contribution does society miss by not investing heavily in those who will, inevitably, assume leadership roles – with or without adequate preparation.” Across the organization, AUiX lives by a nonnegotiable standard that to whom much is given, much is required. Through various social innovation efforts, AUiX aspires to be a conduit of change not only in the Air Force community, but also in the lives of these future leaders. 


Weston Fulfer

Co-Author: Geneva Watford

July 18, 2023
Read More in Innovation

Caption (Photo Above): 2022-2023 iRTF students with Brewbaker Middle School Teachers receiving recognition from the Montgomery Public School Board. Also pictured, AUiX team members: Rashim McKinney, Maj. Weston Fulfer, Jeremy VanEgmund. 

We are extremely proud to introduce Project PELLA, a three pronged approach which spans the life of school-aged children in our region. We see PELLA as a pathway of influence that upholds our core values and benefits the needs of our community while aiding in our contribution to the mission of “developing a talent pipeline of tech-savvy problem solvers…by advancing knowledge and capabilities within STEM to enhance national security in alignment with the National Security Strategy.” 

This month we will launch PELLA: Fly, an aviation program that (1) introduces and promotes student interest in the field of aviation and (2) offers high school students a pathway to obtain a Private Pilot License (PPL). The PPL track includes intensive training and instruction on both manned and unmanned flight. PELLA: Fly offers transformative experiences and hands-on STEM exposure to middle and high school students.

PELLA: Labs is our series of fairs and Saturday mentorship programs aimed at inspiring youth in STEM fields. Fairs are large scale events that provide broad exposure to a variety of activities for students of all ages. Saturdays are smaller, more intimate sessions focused on enhancing the skills of instructors and teachers in STEAM subjects to better support their students. 

And, lastly, PELLA: Ambassadors is a training intensive for influences – both students and instructors – on the latest happenings in STEM, thereby creating an extended network of promoters and educators for this vital program. Train the Trainer provides STEAM Educational Development on what’s happening now, facilitated by Partners in Praxeum, Air University’s Classroom of the Future. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown was recently quoted in DefenseNews as saying, “Young people only aspire to be what they know about. If…we don’t outreach to them, we may miss some tremendous talent. But they’ve got to be qualified…” 
Project PELLA is an ambitious and impactful initiative with diverse programming for K-12 students that is poised to make significant contributions to the development of the STEM ecosystem in Alabama River Region. The project is deeply rooted in Air University’s institutional heritage and reputation for STEM proficiency and innovation. 

PELLA bridges Air University to Alabama River Region’s local classrooms and after-school programs by integrating resources from CAP, JROTC, Praxeum, ACSC, and AWC along with community partners at the Montgomery Board of Education, the YMCA, and Gibraltar Solutions. This synergistic collaboration exponentially increases opportunities for students to learn from and interact with Air University students, faculty, researchers, and strategic partners enabling a holistic STEM learning experience through cross-disciplinary collaborations.   


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