The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Growing up in Alabama, I had many chances to visit Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center, a research park and museum that serves as the official visitor center for the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, the largest facility of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

It was fascinating to walk among artifacts of the US space program, such as the Apollo 16 command module and the F-1 engines of the Saturn V rockets that propelled that program. There were also hands-on exhibits, simulators, one of the early Omnimax theaters—the predecessor to today’s IMAX—and even Space Camp, a weeklong experience of what it would be like to become an astronaut. Everything a kid growing up in the early 1980s with a curiosity about space would want was there.

Those weekends spent at this amazing facility, where I first ate freeze-dried ice cream, are largely responsible for my lifelong love of science and the stars.

When I heard that seven Japanese students had been sponsored by ACCJ Corporate Sustaining Member (CSM) Northrop Grumman Corporation to attend this year’s Space Camp, I felt a hint of nostalgia. I also felt happy to know that—in an age of in­sufficient funding for schools and questions about their adequacy—forward-thinking businesses are devoting resources to science education.

Prior to helming The ACCJ Journal, I lent my writing, editing, and marketing skills to an international program of the US National Space Society called Enterprise in Space (EIS). The goal of the ongoing EIS program is to design, engineer, and build an orbiter that will carry 100 student experiments into space and return them to Earth.

At the heart of this is STEM, an acronym for science, tech­nology, engineering, and mathematics that has become a centerpiece of curricula designed to prepare students for the changing nature of jobs.

To be more accurate, EIS is powered by STEAM, which adds arts to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This focus on education—together with the aforementioned fascination with the stars (and my love of science fiction)—is what attracted me to the program. And, as a trained classical musician and former designer, the arts element is also some­thing in which I strongly believe.

For this issue of The ACCJ Journal, I wanted to learn more about how STEM in general and the trip to Space Camp in particular are bringing US and Japanese students together. So, I talked to Northrop Grumman as well as another of our CSMs, Dow Chemical Japan Ltd., who has a team of employee ambassadors who volunteer their time to inspire students—especially girls—to pursue careers in STEM fields. I also talked to representatives of NASA and JAXA—the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The work these organizations are doing reminded me of why I got involved with EIS, and why I’m proud to have been able to contribute, in some small way, to STEM education.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.
Everything a kid growing up in the early 1980s with a curiosity about space would want was there.