DSU Student Chosen to Attend Air Force Symposium

Conner Starrett, a Dakota State student and Air Force Cadet Major, was chosen as one of three regional cadets to attend the AFA Warfare Symposium this week in Colorado. 

The 2023 theme is: “Dominant Air & Space Forces to Deter, Fight & Win.” 

Attendees were able to hear from Senior Air Force, Space Force, and industry leaders, network with other military members, spouses, and industry, and also visit with more than 100 exhibitors to learn about the latest technology.

The symposium complements Starrett’s DSU coursework to help prepare him for a role in cyber. Starrett, a double major in Computer Science and Cyber Operations, is looking to join the Space Force after he graduates from DSU.

Starrett learned of the professional development opportunity through his ROTC unit, the 780th Cadet Wing at South Dakota State University. 

He said that, “There is a saying that it’s a small Air Force, but the symposium will provide a chance to develop important connections now.” As a young future officer, he was looking forward to hearing from the Air Force leaders, particularly in regard to the cyber disciplines.

DSU’s partnership arrangement with the ROTC program at SDSU also gives Dakota State students the advantage of Air Force opportunities. The collaboration helps to create a strong partnership between the schools, and allows students to “build really awesome relationships,” he said.

Starrett’s family relationships have also motivated him for this path. His parents are Air Force veterans, and after their military careers, they continued to serve those who served, and he wants to follow their example.

When he is commissioned as an Air Force officer next spring, he will be the first commissioned officer in his family, but he says that, “I will be standing on the shoulders of giants.”