STEM education fuels Macomb County’s defense industry

“Macomb County is the defense capital. We build things to protect those who protect us.”

These are the words that Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel uses to tout the strength of the defense industry here in Macomb County. With first-class Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security installations and a robust advanced manufacturing industrial base, Macomb County has all the components necessary to be a global leader in national security.

Vital to the success of Macomb County’s defense industry is top tier STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talent. Scientific advancement and engineering prowess are what have kept and will continue to keep the U.S. Armed Forces at the forefront of conventional and unconventional military capabilities. In order to stay at the forefront, and to keep our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen safe, as well as “to provide for the common defense” as stated in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, STEM talent is of great importance.

selfridge_1With future prospects for security in mind, Selfridge Air National Guard Base hosted the second of a three-part event spanning St. Clair, Macomb and Wayne counties on May 19 called Inspiring the Next Generation. This event was designed to showcase potential career options in the defense industry for local high school STEM students.

Students had the opportunity to work with robotics controls, experience a flight simulator from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Aviation, solder wires on an F-35 Lightning II model and hear from representatives from General Dynamics Land Systems, Women in Aviation and the Misty Blues All Women Skydiving Team on what it means to work in the defense industry and aviation.

Over 500 STEM students from Anchor Bay School District, Chippewa Valley School District, Warren Woods Public Schools, Center Line Public Schools and Utica Community Schools participated in the event.

Rochon, Daniel IMG_0069Dan Rochon works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development as an associate planner in economic development services.

Website launched to ramp up support for F-35 aircraft at Selfridge

As part of Macomb County’s campaign to secure a squadron of the F-35 Lightening II at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum and County Executive Mark A. Hackel announced the launch of a new website, mif35.org.

selfridge_1The Department of Defense is currently reviewing five potential locations for the fighter aircraft and will choose two final sites. A site survey will be conducted at Selfridge in July, and a final decision by the secretary of the Air Force is expected this summer or fall.

The county is partnering with the base, the Selfridge Community Council, the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce and other community partners to promote Selfridge as the ideal location for the F-35 and to highlight the economic benefits of landing the new aircraft at the base.

The website, designed by Mount Clemens-based Hunch Free, is one of the tools being used to engage the local community and inform them about the importance of bringing the F-35 to Selfridge. In addition to featuring detailed information and supplemental videos, the website also opens a channel of communication with the public, allowing users to show their support, sign up to receive updates and submit any questions they may have about the F-35 potentially coming to Selfridge.

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According to Slocum, Selfridge has fantastic airmen and is a wonderful facility that can easily handle the F-35 aircraft. He emphasized that if the F-35 comes to Harrison Township, it will secure the future of the base for decades to come.

“This is the base that deserves the F-35,” said Hackel.

In addition to strategic location, other features will also be taken into consideration as the Department of Defense makes its decision, such as education and job opportunities as well as housing costs and more. Hackel said he will be a forceful advocate to get the F-35, and if accomplished, he has no doubt any additional employees this transition may bring will feel comfortable making Macomb their home.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.