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NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace takes stage to promote Space4All STEM awareness campaign

Prior to the GEICO 500, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace took the stage at Talladega Superspeedway alongside retired NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, commercial astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Vice President Brian Talbot.

The eclectic panel’s purpose? Promoting the Space4All STEM Awareness Campaign, a public-private partnership aimed at “igniting interest in future careers in STEM and space and revealing the many ways that space enhances our lives on Earth.”

The press conference was backed by Leidos — one of Wallace’s primary partners.

“Leidos is proud to contribute to the Space4All initiative, collaborating alongside our customers like the Air Force, Space Force, FAA, DoD STEM, NASA and other key organizations,” said Jonathan Pettus, Leidos senior vice president of aerospace systems. “Together, we are dedicated to addressing this gap by reinforcing the belief that careers in space and STEM are truly accessible to all.”

The Space4All STEM Awareness Campaign is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Education and four nonprofit space organizations. The initiative was launched on April 8th to “bring the benefits of space to communities across America” in the face of a looming STEM worker shortage.

RELATED: Leidos lunar rover inspires next generation of explorers at Alabama Cyber School

According to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the five-year campaign “will spotlight the relevance, impact, and accessibility of space and highlight pathways to success in space-related STEM education and careers” and “focus on reaching underrepresented communities to ensure equitable, diverse, and inclusive growth within the space industry.”

“By 2025, the U.S. STEM workforce will need 3.5 million new workers. We need to attract all of the brightest minds to join this exciting industry, especially from traditionally underrepresented communities,” said AIAA CEO Dan Dumbacher. “Today, only 16 percent of aerospace and defense workers are Black and Hispanic. The aerospace industry can do better, and we must address the lack of STEM-literate workers immediately with long-term solutions.”

Leidos is one of over 150 corporate, federal, and community-based organizations that have joined the campaign.

“Through the extraordinary partnership with Leidos, we’ve kicked off this awareness campaign making a meaningful connection with people of all walks of life so they can see themselves in space and STEM,” said Talbot. “This is just the beginning, and we’re excited to expand the Space Champion network, adding more space companies and educational organizations to help shape how people can directly connect the benefits of space to our lives.”

Leidos is a prominent sponsor of 23XI, Wallace’s racing team: the official name of the driver’s car is the #23 Leidos Toyota Camry XSE.

“With a company like Leidos, I don’t think there’s a barrier we can’t break through,” Wallace said. “We’ve proven that together we can accomplish whatever task we have on our mind. Whether it’s engineering new technology for our racing team to rely on to get quicker and better data, or promoting diversity and inclusion in our communities, I think the sky is the limit, and I’m excited to continue to push the limit in every way possible.”

Charles Vaughan is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. 

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