Inslee inaugurates STEM day with Japanese ambassador

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Rosalie Black/Columbia Basin Herald Japanese ambassador Kenichiro Sasae addresses the attendees at the kickoff of Mitsubishi Aircraft’s ‘Reach for the Stars’ program at the Port of Moses Lake on Thursday.

MOSES LAKE — Gov. Jay Inslee was in Moses Lake on Thursday to help unveil a new program from Mitsubishi Aircraft designed to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among high school freshmen in Moses Lake.

Called “Reach for the Stars,” Mitsubishi Aircraft plans to bring about 600 ninth-graders from around the region to Big Bend Community College for half a day on May 16 to listen to and meet with scientists, engineers, pilots, and even an astronaut.

“An hour of inspiration can make a whole career,” Inslee said.

According to Scott Sobel, a public relations advisor with Mistsubishi Aircraft, many of the details of the half-day STEM program have yet to be worked out. However, he hopes to make the day “as interactive as possible.” Mitsubishi also sees helping to develop future generations of scientists and engineers as an investment in its own future.

“The is the first event of its kind in Washington, and maybe even the country,” Sobel said. “It’s a variation on what Mitsubishi has done for years.”

Inslee said Moses Lake was the perfect place to start such an outreach program.

“This is a hub of innovation,” Inslee said of both the Port of Moses Lake and Big Bend Community College. “You have a booming economy in Moses Lake, and it’s exciting to see what this college is doing for that.”

Inslee was at the Port of Moses Lake with Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae. The two visited the facility where Mitsubishi is testing its new regional jet (the MRJ), where Sasae praised the passenger plane as a good example of the kinds of cooperation between Americans and Japanese.

The MRJ was partly designed in Seattle, Sasae said, and over half the parts for the plane were built in the U.S. In fact, the majority of the MRJ’s contracted buyers are American regional airlines.

“Without cooperation this is not possible,” he said.

While Inslee himself is not a scientist, he said the science education he received in high school and college gave him the ability to talk intelligently with scientists seeking to influence government policy.

“I know just enough science to understand, to be a governor who is smart enough to listen to the scientists,” Inslee said.

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