New 'Expedition' Targets Students Interested in Aviation
It has been reported that the aviation industry is facing major shortages in the upcoming years. Specifically, forecasts show that over the the next 19 years, the aviation industry will need to fill 2,110,000 jobs (which includes commercial airline pilots, commercial airline maintenance technicians and cabin crew).
In response to the shortages, a group of passionate pilots, entrepreneurs, and educators conducted a research project to evaluate the state of aviation education at the high school level. They visited over 30 programs across and found that the foundation to build a talent pipeline for the aviation industry already exists. They identified an opportunity to connect and strengthen aviation educators; with this the Aviation Foundation Community (ACF) was formed.
Industry support and collaboration has been critical, with JetBlue, Airlines For America, Signature Flight Support, Lockheed/Sikorsky, Cradle of Aviation, Vaughn College and others all playing a key role to make it happen.
On May 16th, ACF will host the Student Aviation Expedition in New York City. It is a first-of-its-kind STEM based experiential learning event for high school students with an interest in aviation. Primarily, ACF is bringing together students who come from a diverse background including residents from some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. ACF has researched and experienced firsthand how aviation can be used as a hook to change the lives of high school students especially in underserved populations. An education rooted in aviation combined with experiential learning is proven to keep students off the streets, out of gangs, and off of drugs. This style of learning may aid in giving students career aspirations and may even change the course of their lives.
The Expedition will give students a unique set of opportunities to develop a network of peers and mentors to help them develop their “flight plan” for life. ACF will connect participants to leaders in aviation and business experts who will act as mentors and guest speakers. Students will also participate in STEM competitions that will encourage peer to peer mentoring and collaboration. Two helicopter rides over the city have been donated to the top two winning teams.
Other highlights include a backstage tour of JetBlue’s operations at JFK airport, a career panel to expose participants to a whole range of aviation career opportunities. At the Cradle of Aviation Museum senior executives will career advice while at Vaughn College the students will compete in a STEM competition with the winning teams flying in a S-76 helicopter over NYC donated by Sikorsky.
ACF’s vision is to give students a life-changing experience that will show them what is possible for their lives. They found from research it is clear that in order for students to do something different with their lives, they need to see something different. When students become good citizens it ultimately benefits the whole community. ACF sees the Expedition as a step towards building the talent pipeline while at the same time developing community, college and career-ready citizens.
For more information about our foundation please visit our website at aviation-community.org.
Ethan Martin is the CEO of the Aviation Community Foundation.