8th Annual U.S. Air Force / FIRST® Leadership Experience for FIRST Teachers & Mentors

U.S. Air Force logo

The U.S. Air Force develops leaders of remarkable character and vision. For the 8th year, the U.S. Air Force is offering a unique three-day leadership program providing FIRST mentors with hands on leadership training taught by Air Force personnel.

Throughout the three-day experience, mentors will attend lectures, take part in team building exercises, and tour a local Air Force Base. The Air Force will select a group of 24 teachers and mentors from FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams who are helping inspire today’s youth to become the technical leaders of tomorrow.

24 Finalists for the U.S Air Force / FIRST Leadership Experience

FIRST Tech Challenge     FIRST Robotics Competition  
Name City/State   Name City/State
Enrique Arce-Larreta Salt Lake City, UT   Mary Anderson Greenbush, MN
Shelia Chewning Lancaster, VA   Christina Arnsperger Cincinnati, OH
Lauren Kornegay-Dollar St. Louis, MO   Monte Blaustein Washington, CT
Cristina Lebron Marietta, GA   Thomas Dewey Valley Center, CA
Maria Lorena Kirschner Stanhope, NJ   Zachary Goude Corbett, OR
Mary Loveless Chattanooga, TN   Edward La Bruyere Arlington, TX
Orlando Montalvo Mission, TX   Brian LaVallee Lake Placid, NY
Daniel Penny Melbourne, FL   Ryan Lindsay Babbitt, MN
Diane Ripollone Raleigh, NC   Daniel Lubin Scottville, MI
Brian Turner Dallas, TX   Carolyn Noble Brownsburg, IN
Michael Watkins Sanger, CA   Krisma Smith Marion, AR
Osman Yolcu Las Vegas, NV   Sara Whitbeck-Zacharias Salt Lake City, UT


When:  July 14 - 18, 2019; Dates could be subject to change based on Air Force operational missions/priorities.

Where:  Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; Dayton, Ohio

The U.S. Air Force/FIRST Leadership Experience is at no cost to the 24 selected teachers/mentors. All travel costs within the continental United States (airfare, lodging, meals) are paid by the U.S. Air Force.

*Please note the workshop dates will most likely have one travel day before and one travel day after the 3-day seminar.*

Participation Agenda:

  • July 14th Travel to Dayton, Ohio for all mentors
  • July 15th  Leadership Experience
  • July 16th  Leadership Experience
  • July 17th  Leadership Experience
  • July 18th  Travel Home for all mentors

Who is Eligible:

FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition mentors who are K-12 teachers who live within the continental United States.

Additional Requirements:

  • Must be willing to commit to the full workshop
  • Must be able to travel to the event from within the U.S.
  • Must not have participated in this leadership experience in previous years
  • Must not have involvement or affiliation with other military branches

How to Apply:

  • Applications must be submitted by Friday, May 10th, 2019.
  • As part of your application, you will have the opportunity to describe in 300 words or less how you have found a better way to get students excited about science and technology, and what innovative techniques you use to help kids learn and stay motivated. 

Selection Process:

  • A selection committee will review all applications and select the mentors who will receive an invitation to attend the USAF/FIRST Leadership Experience
  • Chosen applicants will be named by Friday, May 24th, 2019.
  • A GSD&M representative will contact chosen applicants on behalf of the U.S. Air Force

For questions, please contact Brittany Keegan at brittany.keegan@gsdm.com.

U.S. Air Force Leadership program

Disclaimer:  The Department of Defense is undergoing budgetary reviews that may require the Air Force to cancel this event at a moment’s notice. It is the Air Force’s intent to hold this event unless directed to cease all actions due to sequestration. The Air Force believes this event is worthwhile and provides long-term benefits that help develop future leaders. If the event is canceled, you will be notified immediately.