FT. WORTH, TX – Six representatives of the aviation industry were sitting on the stage in front of 250 educators and school administrators on Nov. 6, day one of the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium held at American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth, TX. They were ready to present the topic, “Now Hiring: Growing Demand in Aviation Fields.” That is, until they were asked an unexpected question: “When did you first know aviation would become your passion and life-long career?”
The microphone was handed down the line as the representatives told stories of catching the aviation bug. From watching Top Gun, to listening to stories told by a father throughout his pilot career, to taking an aviation class in high school, it was clear that many knew very early in life that flight was an obsession. It’s what American Airlines Chief Pilot David Tatum, Alaska Air Group CEO Bill Ayer, Boeing Global Services Director of Air Crew Operations Carlton Davis, retired Astronaut for NASA Nicole Stott, Envoy Air Senior Vice President of Air Operations Dee Temples, and UPS Director of Global Aviation and Public Policy Houston Mills had in common.
Yes, aviation is losing employees to retirement at a faster rate than new recruits can replace them. However, this has created new opportunities for pilots and aviation industry personnel to step in. Jobs for remote drone pilots alone are expected to grow by 400% by 2021 thanks to changes in the agriculture, security, and media industries. The AOPA STEM symposium was held Nov. 6-7 to address the industry’s employment needs and enable schools to either launch an aviation program or to insert aviation curriculum into existing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes.
Gleim Aviation attended the event to gain insight into aviation STEM education trends, connect with educators and administrators who are adding aviation education to their curriculum, and take advantage of a new opportunity. AOPA is pushing to make sure that the projected aviation employee shortage is being addressed through awareness initiatives and the training of a new generation of pilots and aviation support professionals.
Gleim was excited to discuss curriculum needs, classroom materials, flight simulation, remote drone pilot certification, and professional development opportunities with teachers who said they felt the need for more aviation training as they present future lessons about the science and technology that makes flight possible and where aviation can take our society.
Gleim Aviation pilot and instructor Paul Duty said, “Teaching aviation is such a rewarding opportunity. Seeing students get inspired and develop interests that turn into lifelong passions is very gratifying.” The day after the symposium, Duty presented a drone demonstration for a local FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter in High Springs, FL. “I love it when young students ask technical questions. It really shows how engaged they are. How can you not get excited about the prospects of sharing aviation every day with students who are eager to learn?” Duty said.
From McGrath, AK to Anaheim, CA, to Sheffield, MA to West Palm Beach, FL, educators, flight school owners, and aviation museum reps everywhere want to infuse aviation STEM into summer camps, community organizations, and classrooms. They came together and discussed their goals with Gleim. Gleim Aviation training materials have been used in schools across the U.S. for decades. The Gleim team of Aviation Training Consultants are passionate about helping schools and community groups bring aviation training to the next generation of pilots, ground crews, remote pilots, and aviation maintenance technicians.
Introducing aviation career opportunities and aviation technology to students as early as elementary school is key. This is made possible by creating opportunities for aviation STEM teachers and instructors through professional development.
On Gleim Aviation’s new STEM Aviation Resource Hub, educators can earn certifications as a Ground Instructor or Remote Pilot and fully prepare to teach aviation by completing the aviation Fundamentals of Instructing course.
A special thank you goes out to the STEM Symposium organizer and Senior Director of the AOPA High School Aviation Initiative Cindy Hasselbring. She is a 16-year veteran math teacher and a private pilot who recently earned her seaplane rating. She’s currently pursuing her Instrument Pilot rating using Gleim Aviation.
As an aviation education advocate, Hasselbring is the aviation STEM initiative program leader and represents AOPA’s directive. “By working with schools directly, we can expose and engage a more diverse group of students in aviation,” she said. “That gives us the opportunity to reach individuals who might otherwise never realize that an aviation career, or avocation, is within their reach.”
Next year, the fourth annual AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium will convene on Nov. 5 in Louisville, Kentucky, and, according to Hasselbring, “UPS will play a major role to show a different side of aviation.”
For more information on the AOPA high school initiative visit youcanfly.aopa.org/high-school
About Gleim Aviation
Since 1980, Gleim Aviation’s team of pilots, instructors, writers, designers, and programmers has helped aviators pass millions of FAA knowledge and practical tests using the unique Gleim Knowledge Transfer System. Gleim is an environmentally-friendly company headquartered in Gainesville, FL.