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173rd Fighter Wing showcases careers in science and math for local students

Henley High School engineering students watch F-15 Eagles take off at Kingsley Field, home of the Oregon Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing. (Photo by Samantha Tipler; Klamath County School District)

Henley High School engineering students watch F-15 Eagles take off at Kingsley Field, home of the Oregon Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing. (Photo by Samantha Tipler; Klamath County School District)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- The 173rd Fighter Wing has partnered with a local high school to show students how science, technology, and math subjects shape careers in the real world.

Henley High School has recently adopted a curriculum from Project Lead The Way, which emphasizes a learn-by-doing approach to STEM subjects.

"This engineering class is the first class in a new program offered at Henley High School," said Dr. Kristi Lebkowsky, a PhD in Chemistry, who teaches the new curriculum. "The course's title is Introduction to Engineering Design."

Her students made a recent visit to the base.

"Coming to the base is such a great and unique opportunity we have by living in Klamath Falls and our wonderful partnership with Kingsley," said Lebkowsky. "The visit to the base helps my students to see how engineering design has helped develop so many important products including...the new G-suit, the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) helmet, radar systems, safety systems, and overall aircraft design."

The first stop for the 40 students who made the trip to the base, Nov. 3, was to see that aircraft design in action.

"It was cool just hearing the rumbling. It was exhilarating," said 14-year-old freshman Braden Lawrie after watching take-offs from the taxi-way just outside the restricted runway area.

Incidentally, Lebkowsky is married to Maj. Quentin Lebkowsky, an F-15 Instructor Pilot with the 173rd FW, and his aircraft took off as the students watched and applauded.

Lebkowsky is setting the stage for next year's course which is Aerospace Engineering. 

"I want to get them something to be excited about," she said. "They're fun classes, but they're hard. The students need to see the end result, why they're doing it, before they do all that hard work."

Lt. Col. Alaric Michaelis, a 173rd FW F-15 Instructor Pilot, addressed that while speaking with the students on the bus.

"Learn as much as you can. Get interested in it. If you love it, it'll come easy," he said. "If it's difficult and you keep pushing through, it will become easy, I promise. Just keep trying."

If the course is successful students will learn, "To think like engineers and ultimately be both inventors and innovators," says Lebkowsky. "This country has a need for young innovators to keep us in the race and I know that they were inspired by the visit to the base.  Watching the F-15's launch sparked an interest from all students."