Air Force ROTC hosts summit with Space Force leadership, industry, President Chiang

Cadets from Purdue's Air Force branch of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. (Photo provided/Air Force Detachment 220)

Purdue University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program (AFROTC), a part of Purdue Polytechnic’s Division of Military Science and Technology, hosted the Space Force-focused Giant Leaps Summit on February 23 and 24, 2024.

This inaugural summit’s topic was “national defense in space,” and featured both keynote addresses and breakout sessions with major leadership figures in the Air Force, Space Force, the military intelligence community and the aerospace defense industry.

The summit began on Friday at 6:00 p.m. with an opening address from Purdue’s President Mung Chiang.

Purdue’s executive leadership has had an official interest in Space Force collaboration since late September 2021, when former President Mitch Daniels and the Space Force’s first-ever vice chief of space operations, General David D. Thompson, agreed to add Purdue to the list of 11 founding institutions that make up the Force’s University Partnership Program (UPP).

The GLS schedule for both the Friday and Saturday proceedings. (Image provided)

The Giant Leaps Summit fulfills several aspirations of the UPP partnership, which seeks to leverage cooperative opportunities where Purdue can contribute new research and expert personnel to the Space Force. Space Force research often focuses on general principles of technological progress alongside specialized efforts to advance America’s national defense operations beyond earth’s outer atmosphere.

AFROTC’s designed the summit's goals around these priorities. The gathering was explicitly designed to “strengthen partnerships and collaboration, and create opportunities in space national security research between Purdue, [the Department of Defense (DoD)] and industry.”

To this end, the schedule included speakers and panelists from high-ranking leadership in the Air Force and Space Force, executives from Lockheed Martin, representatives from DoD’s National Reconnaissance Office and Purdue researchers and faculty.

The summit’s event took place between the Loeb Playhouse, the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall and the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.

For interested Purdue students not in AFROTC, there was a concurrent career fair in the Purdue Memorial Union. This invite-only opportunity was designed for students to speak with AFROTC’s partner institutions in technology and defense looking for new hires.

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