Air Force Eagles

A new educational partnership will take experiential education to new heights.


Since it was founded during the Second World War, Fairchild Air Force Base, located just up the road from EWU’s Cheney campus, has been a critical part of our nation’s air defense system. Now it is poised to be a vital partner in education.

Earlier this spring representatives from Fairchild gathered with EWU faculty and staff to celebrate the finalizing of a formal “Educational Partnership Agreement,” one that officials say will provide important experiential learning opportunities for EWU science, technology, mathematics and engineering students.  “This will be a mutually beneficial partnership, one with far-reaching impacts,” said EWU President Shari McMahan during the ceremony.

The signing event was especially gratifying for Stu Steiner, the EWU assistant professor of computer sciences who played a key role in making the agreement a reality.


The relationship will pave the way for further interactions with Department of Defense installations such as Fairchild Air Force Base.


Steiner leads the university’s Center for Network Computing and Cybersecurity. He says the partnership idea originated after EWU cybersecurity students began working with the National Security Agency as part of its National Security Innovation Network. That relationship, he added, paved the way for further interactions with Department of Defense installations such as Fairchild Air Force Base.

Initial discussions with Fairchild were, not surprisingly, centered around cybersecurity. However, after a few meetings, Steiner says, Air Force officials suggested expanding the agreement to include C-STEM students.

“We’re focused on the experiential learning,” says Steiner. “So if Fairchild needs a new fuel pump created, we’re going to invite mechanical engineering students to work on it. If they need design work, we’ll let the design students work on that. There are plenty of projects out there.”

After the ceremony, Col. Chesley Dycus, commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild, offered his own insights.

“There are a lot of problems that the Department of Defense and, more specifically the Air Force and team at Fairchild, need help with,” Dycus said. “This helps us get academic — and a lot of other perspectives — involved to help us with those problems. And, hopefully in doing so, maybe help us recruit some of those students into the Air Force.”