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Education, Public Service

Students in the United States currently rank 25th in the world in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. To inspire more students to pursue STEM careers, the United States Air Force teamed up with advertising agency GSD&M to create the Air Force Collaboratory, an online educational platform that pairs students with Air Force experts to tackle three unclassified military projects. This collaborative effort will prototype technology to find and rescue people trapped in collapsed structures, determine where the newest GPS satellite will be placed and program the next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles. The site was launched with the first project, Search and Rescue 2.0, on August 1st. In less than two weeks, over 420 ideas for the project were posted to the site.

Working with the U.S. Air Force is anything but ordinary. To capture imagery and video content for the site, GSD&M traveled to three Air Force bases, where artists crawled through debris, cameras in hand, in a simulated earthquake environment, rigged unmanned quadrotors with GoPro cameras to shoot in an Air Force lab and filmed at Air Force Space Command—one of the most restricted high-security areas in the country.

GSD&M used video and visual storytelling to explain the selected projects in a way that is both educational and engaging. The site design is flexible, to enable the Air Force to constantly update the site with new content, projects and notifications. Profile pages include a real-time leaderboard that tells users how their idea ranks among those of their peers and a vote up/vote down system that allows the community to give collaborators direct feedback.