A.S., Community College of the Air Force
B.S., Wayland Baptist University
M.S., Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Master Sergeant Stephen Pederson joined the aerospace program at Randolph-Macon Academy in 2007 after retiring from the United States Air Force with over 30 years of military service. He developed his desire to teach during his time spent as a volunteer CPR and CPR Instructor trainer with the American Red Cross. In the Air Force, he served 12 years as a training specialist, three years as a curriculum developer, and one year as a Total Quality Management instructor. He also has four years experience as a Career Assistance Advisor which supports efforts in the Life Skills course.
MSgt Pederson has a passion for space and illustrates this passion while teaching students. He strives to influence his students to pursue STEM careers. “With private firms now supporting space operations, space fields are expanding causing an increase demand for STEM careers,” said MSgt Pederson. College Prep is also extremely important to MSgt Pederson, and he focuses his Life Skills course towards this goal. Through experience gained while helping his two sons enter the college environment, he brings a personal level of understanding which is shared with his students. “I’ve learned many of the detailed application processes, and strive to help make my students’ journey smoother as they transition from Randolph-Macon Academy," he said.
After completing a Teachers in Space workshop on Space Medicine and Human Factors, MSgt Pederson furthered his education goal by completing a Masters Degree in Space Education. Additional professional development was completed with the NASA Digital Learning Network and the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in various workshops including space flight simulation rides in their centrifuge trainer. "The NASTAR Center centrifuge ride gave me first-hand experience on how space tourists would handle flights in XCOR's Lynx and Virgin Galactic's Space Ship 2," he said.
Keeping up with the constant change in space has led MSgt Pederson’s search to social network sites where he finds photos and multimedia acquired from astronauts working on the International Space Station to enhance his aerospace education classes. Additionally, he expands some of the class content beyond NASA missions to include international endeavors such as the Chinese space station. MSgt Pederson stated, “It’s great to show space efforts to our international students who were unaware of their country’s space involvement.”
MSgt Pederson’s efforts have been recognized by the Air Force with his “Outstanding Instructor Award” in 2009, 2012, and 2014 and the “Outstanding Instructor Award with Merit” in 2011. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Warren County, National Space Society, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.