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Lt. Col. Constance "CJ" Muncy of Virginia Wing enjoys helping youth pursue aviation fields, STEM careers

Posted on 12/10/2021 at 12:58 PM by Virginia Smith

Lt. Col. Muncy works with the Robotic Arm STEM Kit

Lt. Col. Constance "CJ" Muncy works with the CAP robotic arm STEM kit.

December 9, 2021

Meet Lt. Col. Constance "CJ" Muncy, Virginia Wing Internal Aerospace Education Officer and Assistant DAE. When she was a teen-ager, she wanted to join CAP, but her parents did not think "aviation was for girls." Not to be deterred, she joined later, helped to start a squadron, and has served more than 20 years with the organization. She has found aviation to be a great fit for her and even helped many youth through the years on their journeys into aviation fields and STEM careers. Her own interest in aviation, like many, was sparked by the first steps on the moon in 1969. "I didn't know what I wanted to do but something with space or flying," she recalls. After getting an aviation technology degree, she has worked in the aviation industry with a major airline, at regional airlines and a charter jet company. Her interest has been anything aviation and space related. She is also the Winchester Composite squadron AEO and serves as the Deputy Commander for Cadets. She has been the CyberPatriot coach for six years, Chief of Staff for three Virginia Wing Cyber Camps and two NCSA Cyber Academies. She hopes to help youth have more opportunities than she had growing up. "The most rewarding aspect is seeing cadets grow through the program, go off to the military or college and come back to participate or show how their experience helped them succeed and be responsible citizens." We asked her some questions about her CAP journey and her answers follow.

Tell us about your current duty positions.

Virginia Wing Internal AEO

Winchester Composite Squadron Deputy Commander for Cadets, CyberPatriot Coach, Professional Development Officer and Squadron AEO.

How and when did you get involved in Civil Air Patrol?

I wanted to join CAP as a teenager, but my parents didn't think aviation was for girls. In 1994, I saw a story in the local paper looking for anyone interested in CAP to start a unit in the area (Fauquier-Culpepper area). I responded and became one of the founding charter members of the Minuteman Composite Squadron in November 1994 and became the Deputy Commander for Cadets (for the first of three times).

How many years have you been in Civil Air Patrol? Tell us about your CAP career path that led to your current roles.

I joined in November 1994 and served through 1997, first with the Minuteman Composite Squadron and then Prince William Composite Squadron. When I joined, I wanted to be an AEO, but the unit was so small that we had one member that was experienced, which was better for the squadron. With only five seniors, I became the Deputy Commander because of my experience working with elementary and middle schoolers and led the cadet program. The squadron drilled with a sister squadron so all the seniors and cadet leaders could learn from an established squadron, Prince William Composite Squadron in Manassas, Virginia. I ended up moving closer to the airport (Dulles International Airport) to work at a regional airline and transferred to PW Squadron, where I got to be an assistant AEO in training among other duties before leaving at the end of 1997. Because of moving, family changes and a child that needed a lot of surgeries and hospitalization away from home, I left CAP. A few years later when my youngest son was old enough, we joined the Winchester Composite Squadron (current squadron), making the total time of service 21 years and 6 months. I became the assistant testing officer and an AEO assistant finally with more AEO responsibilities. Then, I really started to get to do AE lessons and got the squadron active with the Discovery Stations at the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. The squadron was part of the NASA Earth Crew program and planned for Aerospace Education Member (AEM) workshops with great AEO mentors. In July 2008, I became the AEO for Winchester Composite Squadron.   

What is the most rewarding aspect of your Civil Air Patrol experience?

The most rewarding aspect is seeing cadets grow through the program, go off to the military or college and come back to participate or show how their experience helped them succeed and be responsible citizens. I have seen them making a difference (either as enlisted or officer) in the U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy or Air National Guard. I also have seen former cadets go on to become Naval and Air Force Academy graduates, a fighter pilot instructor, firefighter EMTs, safety HVAC trainers. Some have cyber careers. Many, many of them have gone on to become civilian and military pilots. We have three cadets this year that have gotten their third Private Pilot license.

We understand you participated in a virtual instruction project you and 2nd Lt. April Stephens worked on for the Suffolk School Board in Virginia. Can you tell us how you conducted this and why it was successful?

The Hydraulic Engineering STEM Kit was the STEM Project. April Stephens and I would tag team. She had our squadrons' hydraulic engineering kits for another STEM event; so, she demonstrated to the teachers how to build these four machines virtually. This gave the educators, the students' perspective in receiving instruction on the STEM Kit build. Once the building demo was completed, I went over how to navigate to the lesson plans and materials in AXIS for this and other STEM Kits, and how to navigate through the AE Resources and downloads in eServices. We discussed how to use local hydraulic machinery around school, in town or at the airport for the students to see, noting similarities in the machines and the STEM Kit. I discussed key things that need to be completed for a successful working machine through virtual teaching. I answered questions and talked about how to use these machines to demonstrate their capability, talk about fluid dynamics and pair these with real hydraulic machines that they see in and around town. 

Is there anything else about your aerospace education background that you'd like to include (education/awards/etc.) within and outside of CAP.

  • Virginia Wing AEO of the Year (2006)

  • Commanders Commendations 2006, 2019, 2021. 

  • Meritorious Service (2005)

  • Disaster Relief (V device) (2018)

  • Scott Crossfield Award

  • Gen. Chuck Yeager Award

Tell us about your career outside of Civil Air Patrol and why you choose this career? 

My interest in flying and aviation or aerospace started as far back as watching and hearing those famous words on July 20,1969: "The eagle has landed" and "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." I didn't know what I wanted to do but something with space or flying. But I was a girl. When I was in high school, the TV channels would end the night broadcast with the National Anthem and John Gillespie Magee Jr.'s  "High Flight" poem being read while a fighter jet flew the sun-split clouds. It inspired me more to want to be in the military, be a pilot, or something in space or aviation. I joined the U.S. Army but my father discouraged me from  becoming  an air traffic controller. Years later after I was out of the military and had a family, I had the opportunity to go to college, and the local campus had an Aviation Technology degree and flight school training. I worked at a flight school, and an aviation company at a few regional airlines and a major one, too. Thanks to CAP and being a mission radio operator and Communications Unit Leader I could talk to pilots so the manager took me off the ramp (flight line), and I worked zone control (gate and parking area for the planes), which talked with pilots arriving and leaving IAD (Dulles) area. While working at United Airlines during 9/11 when planes weren't flying, I completed my FAA Dispatcher training, receiving my FAA Dispatcher License, hoping to move into the Operations Center and dispatching of planes. Unfortunately, the flying industry took a bit to get back; a string of furloughs eventually impacted me. I was furloughed with many others because of 9/11. Additionally, I have worked for a private jet charter company as one of the flight operation managers. Outside of AE, my career also has included  several years as a contractor at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Regional Family Readiness Coordinator for those civilian and military deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan and 39 other locations around the world.  

I also have years of being an assistant teacher with elementary, middle and high school mostly with special needs and as a supervisor for before- and after-school programs. During any of these teaching and after-school programs I brought CAP with me. We would have STEM days and Space days before CAP had STEM Kits. I have used and shared many of the lesson plans in the AEX books and Uncle Wiggly Wings books for the preschoolers.

Why do you work in the Aerospace Education mission area? Why do you encourage youth in the Aerospace Education area?

I work in the AE mission because I want children -- both male and female -- to have the opportunity that I didn't -- to help inspire their future and the future of the world. And it's real fun!

Tell us about any Civil Air Programs you use internally and externally.

Lt. Col Muncy during a model rocketry demonstration

Lt. Col. Constance "CJ" Muncy is shown during a rocketry demonstration.

In my earlier years in CAP, when I was an afterschool program supervisor, I would have stations around the room with CAP AE activities for the children to do or make. I have shared CAP's Uncle Wiggly Wings set of booklets with preschool teachers for my grandchildren. I have presented the ACE program two years ago to a Catholic school in Burke and am working with the STEM Educator for a Title I school locally.

Each year for the last 17 years I have manned the CAP Exhibit at the largest rocketry competition in the world – The American Rocketry Challenge (TARC).  Our squadron has fielded 5 teams over the years. Our AE materials, STEM Kits and DDR message with Fatal Vision goggles are viewed on an average each year by almost 200 educators, 100 teams of competitors (totally over 400 students) and a few hundred spectators that come through our exhibit. The last few years our STEM Kits have been part of the CAP exhibit for the Mission Tomorrow, where over 12,000 8th graders from around the Richmond, Virginia, area schools check out interactive career exploration over two days every October.   

What is the best advice you have for a new AE Officer working with cadets?

Do not PowerPoint to death. They get that with everything else. Try to have some hands-on activity each month for AE. Make it count. Do something that will work for both STEM and AEX. Please, please make sure you award a cadet each year the blue Air Force Association ribbon for AFA's Annual Award for CAP Outstanding Squadron Cadet. Every AEO should spend at least one hour checking out Capt. Robert (Bob) Roberts' AE YouTube Channel. He is amazing and has excellent material including videos teaching the AE Dimensions Modules 

Do you have any suggestions for how to conduct outreach in schools (working with students and recruiting AEMs)? 

Know CAP's materials well. Let teachers know how our materials will help engage students and that the material is friendly for substitute teachers to use. Teachers have a difficult time with lessons that subs can do while a teacher is out of class. Tell teachers that our lessons come with the National Standards listed. Let teachers know that as an Aerospace Education Member all the STEM Kits and resource materials are all free.

Please tell an anecdote of a rewarding experience working with cadets:

When I was a teen and went to the National Air and Space Museum in D.C., I wished I could work for the Air and Space museum or NASA. Being the AEO in early 2005 our squadron participated in NASA Earth Crew, where we performed experiments on Earth while astronauts performed in space. Cadets submitted questions to the ISS crew and during a live feed many of their questions were selected and answered live. Later in 2005 we supported Space Day at the National Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center and developed a friendship with the Discovery Station Coordinator. Later some of our AEX activities became part of the Innovations Day, Halloween Air and Scare event and Discovery Stations. Several Cadets and seniors went through training to become Discovery Station volunteers and were badged for the museum. So, I got my wish because of CAP and the cadets. I got to work with NASA and the Air and Space Museum. 

Lt. Col Muncy at a museum during NSCA Cyber Academy

Lt. Col. Muncy has worked with NCSA Cyber Academies.

 

 

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