CHOOSE AEROSPACE PARTNERs with aircraft owners and pilots association ON AVIATION EDUCATION, WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
JENKS, Oklahoma--Choose Aerospace and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Foundation signed an agreement to establish a formal collaboration on their aviation education and workforce pipepline initiatives.
The parties will collaborate to “identify curriculum alignment, jointly promote each other’s educational materials, and pursue grant funding opportunities related to aviation,” according to the memorandum of understanding. The organizations hope that efforts to share ideas, best practices, and training resources will help both to meet the ongoing and increasing demand for pilots and mechanics.
Key elements from the MOU, signed October 5, include review of curriculum benchmarks and competencies between the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum and the Choose Aerospace Aviation Maintenance Curriculum; cross-promotion of content and materials through websites, newsletters, social media, and joint presentations to schools/districts and industry events; and exploration of grant funding proposals related to K-12 aviation education.
Recent data distributed by The Boeing Company forecasts the need for 690,000 technicians over the next 20 years—and this does not include business or general aviation demands. Domestic air travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and international travel is expected to return by 2024. Meanwhile, new sectors such as advanced air mobility are emerging and will demand a highly skilled workforce.
The AOPA Foundation and Choose Aerospace play key roles in helping industry meet this this demand, workforce, providing education, training and employment pathways in the communities they serve.
“This agreement allows the AOPA Foundation and Choose Aerospace to collaborate more closely,” said Glenn Ponas, AOPA Foundation director of high school outreach. “Together, we will be able to provide our respective curricula and resources to school districts and career technical centers and support them in creating pathways to careers as pilots, drone pilots, and aviation maintenance technicians.”
The collaboration with the AOPA Foundation is the first of multiple efforts from Choose Aerospace to coordination and collaborate with partner aviation programs and resources. By working to reduce the duplication of efforts and provide educators with a comprehensive set of tools, Choose Aerospace will support wide-spread adoption of aviation programs that can meet both student needs and fill regional and aviation and aerospace workforce demands.
“Aviation industry stakeholders recognize the need to invest resources and collaborate as part of developing a sustainable, diverse workforce,” said Ryan Goertzen, Vice President Workforce Development at AAR Corp and President of Choose Aerospace. “The Choose Aerospace-AOPA Foundation partnership will help both organizations maximize their already-productive efforts to feed aerospace’s workforce pipeline.”
The partnership will be announced at the first AOPA Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Development Summit, which will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport on November 12. The AOPA You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Symposium will follow the summit November 12 through 14. Both events are open to organizations that offer high school aviation curricula and resources.
Register for the summit here.
Register for the symposium here.
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly by creating an environment that gives people of all ages the opportunity to enjoy aviation and all it has to offer. AOPA is the world's largest community of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., and seven regions across the United States. The association provides member services, including advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels, legal services, flight training and safety programs, and award-winning media. AOPA specializes in making aviation more accessible to everyone. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.
ABOUT CHOOSE AEROSPACE
Choose Aerospace is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partnership of aerospace stakeholders joined together to increase the availability of a diverse, qualified, technical workforce to support industry growth. A primary objective for Choose Aerospace is to make aerospace career and technical training a priority in secondary schools and to provide multiple career paths to success within the industry. Its aviation maintenance curriculum provides a resource for secondary and community-based programs to develop pathways to Federal Aviation Administration mechanic certification. For more information, visit chooseaerospace.org/curriculum.
Artificial intelligence and virtual reality will play key roles in training the aviation maintenance technician of tomorrow. Choose Aerospace is part of a recently formed industry consortium that will study beneficial ways to apply the technology and develop specific tools based on its research.
The effort is backed by a $2 million research grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to project leader Clemson University. Choose Aerospace will work along with Clemson and participants Purdue University, Southern Illinois University, Greenville Technical College, SA Technologies, NSF National Center for Autonomous Technologies, Aviation Technician Education Council, Frontier Airlines, AAR, Republic Airways, Atlas Air, Stevens Aerospace, Vericor, AMFA, and Lockheed Martin.
Choose Aerospace's specific roles include forging a partnership network with aviation maintenance industry stakeholders and provide guidance on the development and refinement of aviation maintenance education resources and a hybrid curriculum that can leverage the new tools.
Examples of the tools could include virtual-reality headsets that allow a technician to "see" an engine and conduct repairs without ever leaving a classroom. Such tools augment hands-on aspects of technical training by providing cost-effective ways to learn and practice skills.
"A sustainable, diverse workforce pipeline is more than just people," said Choose Aerospace Executive Director Crystal Maguire. "Access to the most advanced tools and technology will play key roles in ensuring tomorrow's maintenance technicians are prepared to meet the demands of a fast-growing industry. Choose Aerospace is excited to work with such a diverse group of partners and support Clemson University's efforts."
Business aviation maintenance specialist West Star Aviation is launching an innovate maintenance technician training academy, leveraging Choose Aerospace's baseline training and Southwestern Illinois College's Part 147 curriculum to create a career onramp for aspiring mechanics.
The West Star Aviation Academy (WSAA) program will launch with 25 apprentices spending 7.5 months on a combination of course work and hands-on training. The lessons will blend Choose Aerospace's curriculum, Southwest Illinois' FAA-approved curriculum and West Star's proprietary training.
The WSAA apprenticeship program timeline is significantly shorter than industry's typical 18-30-month program, and candidates are paid during their training.
West Star's approach is one example of how Choose Aerospace can help create a pipeline for aspiring mechanics--from high school students to transitioning military members--to obtain the skills needed for becoming a certified airframe and powerplant technician.
For more details on WSAA, see https://www.weststaraviation.com/news/in-house-academy/.
Strengthening and expanding a blossoming workforce-development program that links high school students and major aviation companies was the focus of a half-day summit at participant Tulsa Tech's Owasso Campus on October 13.
The "Industry In Service" event spotlighted participants in Choose Aerospace, an aerospace workforce pipeline development program that prepares high school students and others to become certified aviation maintenance professionals.
Oklahoma, with 12 of the 21 educational institutions that have signed on, is leading the way in the fledgling program's development. Three of the 12 Oklahoma participants are in the Tulsa metro area: Sand Springs High School, Okmulgee High School, and Tulsa Public East Central High School.
Representatives from these schools and other Tulsa-based institutions were on hand along with local executives from several companies that support Choose Aerospace, including American Airlines, The NORDAM Group LLC, Lufthansa Technik, and Spirit AeroSystems. The summit's goal was to share best practices and generate more interest among schools and communities as part of a broader workforce development effort.
Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell kicked off the summit, spotlighting the state's commitment to workforce development at the highest levels.
“The second largest, most powerful, influential industry in the state of Oklahoma is our aerospace industry,” said Pinnell. “We've got to tell kids, and working adults for that matter, in all 77 counties that there are amazing opportunities when it comes to aviation and aerospace. In this part of the state and across the state, we want to make Oklahoma the best place to choose aerospace.”
The event was also supported by Tulsa Tech, the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Aerospace Council, Oklahoma CareerTech and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
Schools that adopt the Choose Aerospace curriculum offer students direct pathways to accredited aviation maintenance schools or apprenticeships with aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and maintenance providers. Such pathways are seen as a key to developing and diversifying the workforce in the rapidly expanding U.S. aviation industry. As one of the U.S.'s largest and most well-developed aerospace business regions, Oklahoma is an ideal area for the program to blossom and serves as an example of how to develop focused, sustainable aviation career pipelines.
For more information, visit chooseaerospace.org/curriculum.
Choose Aerospace is a partnership of aerospace stakeholders including companies, associations, labor unions and education institutions, joined to address the availability of a diverse, qualified technical workforce and to spur interest in aerospace careers, and identify and implement solutions to the aerospace workforce shortage. A primary objective for Choose Aerospace is to make aerospace career and technical training a priority in secondary schools and to provide multiple career paths to success within the industry.
From left to right: Choose Aerospace Executive Director Crystal Maguire, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, and American Airlines Workforce Development and Strategy representative Chase Beasley discuss state-based aviation workforce development initiatives ahead of Pinnell’s remarks at the Choose Aerospace In Service event.
Industry and educators, including The NORDAM Group LLC Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Communication Mandy Monahan, network and discuss aviation pathway programs at the Choose Aerospace In Service event.
This morning, ATEC Executive Director Crystal Maguire presented a briefing for part 147 programs on how they can utilize the Choose Aerospace aviation maintenance curriculum to grow enrollment of their A&P program. The webinar gave an overview of the curriculum, how and why it was created, and reviewed commonly asked questions (as set forth on our Q&A page).
If you missed the live version, you can still check out the 45-minute recorded version, below.
You can also download the slide deck here.