“It just seemed like fun,” said Jackson Mullins. The rising sixth-grader attends Durham Middle School in Acworth and aspires to be a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.
For the last eight years, Lockheed Martin has worked with STARBASE Academy to coordinate a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp for the
children and grandchildren of employees. Jackson’s dad, Robert, writes technical manuals for the C-130.
Jackson Mullins was one of 33 rising fifth- through eighth-graders who attended the camp this week.
During his four-day experience, he participated in hands-on classes at the STARBASE lab, met with U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin pilots, took a C-130 production line tour and met with various Lockheed Martin engineers. The students also met with Bret Luedke, chief F-22 Raptor test pilot, and the week ended with a rocket launch and graduation celebration Thursday afternoon.
Mullins said building some parts of the rocket were tough. However, his favorite part of the week was trying out the flight simulator.
“It was pretty cool because you got the feel of how pilots fly. I have a flight simulator at home. It’s a small computer program,” he said, adding that his favorite plane is the C-130, which his father also worked on as an engineer when he was in the air force.
The academy’s director for the last 10 years, Bill Wells, said students get to see the engineering process from an idea to the design, or concept to prototype as engineers call it.
Jim Jackson, the lead instructor and a retired Cobb County music teacher who worked at Pine Mountain Middle in Kennesaw, said: “We’re trying to be a premier STEM academy and get them interested in science careers … the practical uses of engineering.”
Stephanie Stinn, a Lockheed spokewoman, said the two summer camps strive to instill a “reach for the stars mentality” in children so they might confidently pursue their biggest dreams.
STARBASE Academy is held in conjunction with the Georgia National Guard’s Peach State STARBASE program that is based at Dobbins. It is a national program and the product of the Air National Guard and the Department of Defense.
The academy serves students from area school districts, including Cobb and Marietta, and between 900 and 1,000 kids each school year. Lockheed Martin is a long-time supporter of STARBASE Academy, which dedicated its lab as the Lockheed Martin Technology Center in 2003.