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32 As demonstrated throughout the information in the previous chapters, many exciting activÂ ities are offered across the country that can facilitate some interest and hopefully lifelong interest in aviation. The missing item is a pathway connecting these activities from that first exposure either to a career in aviation or to a lifeÂlong interest. In many instances, children only may be exposed to the aspects of aviation once, which is most likely not enough inter action to spark an interest or maintain longÂterm involvement. Consequently, the results of the research led to the recommendation that aviation professionals and educators create opportunities for continued engagement to support exposure and interaction with aviation activities. The term pathway describes this spectrum of activities that can lead from the first exposure to the more detailed interactions, all the way to becoming a professional in the aviation industry and then contributing to a selfÂperpetuating cycle for the next generation at the initial level of interaction. This chapter outlines suggestions on aspects to consider when developing these pathways; however, adapting a pathway unique to the specific needs, resources, and situation of an educaÂ tor or program developer is essential to longÂterm success. Considering individual capabilities is important when developing a pathway for engageÂ ment. While it is desirable to create a cycle that can take a student from an early age, engage the student in the pursuit of an aviation career, and then encourage the student to give back to the cycle, this may not be feasible in many instances. Regardless, any entity that can provide aviation education or engagement opportunities is of value even if not part of a broader pathÂ way or program. These entities are encouraged to look for ways to connect or develop other opportunities that can begin to build these pathways. Flexibility is key. The research for this ACRP resource proved there is not a oneÂsizeÂfitsÂall approach to any of the programs, and each situation will likely be different and need to be refined to fit its needs. Therefore, start small, focus on a program that can be built slowly from single events, and look for connectivity to other activities or groups that can begin to create the full pathway. The following example illustrates this building block process at a simplistic level. A local airport manager is a friend of a local elementary school teacher of fifth graders. The teacher expresses interest in having her students come to the airport for a field trip for a tour of the airport. The manager agrees and hosts a group of 25 students for a couple of hours to tour the airport and the FBO and provides the opportunity for students to sit in an airplane. The students may find this very interestÂ ing, and the teacher may build on the tour by having guest speakers from the aviation industry speak with the students about possible careers. The teacher may notice a group of students who are very engaged in these discussions and may be able to work with a local pilot group or maybe an Experimental AirÂ craft Association chapter to get this group of children involved in a Young Eagles program or Explorer C H A P T E R 4 Pathway to Establishing an Aviation Career Program
Pathway to Establishing an Aviation Career Program 33 program or even create an aviation club that could do handsÂon activities. As these students advance in grade, there may be ways to incorporate classroom activities that support their interest, or maybe summer internships at the airport they visited to keep their interest and engagement. The local high school career counselor could assist the students in finding educational opportunities that involve both technical trainÂ ing as well as 4Âyear degree programs related to aviation and possible scholarship opportunities. This is a simplistic example of how different elements could be sewn together to create even a basic pathway to support a student through the process. This example could be enhanced over time to become a more robust and deliberate pathway. For example, the list of initial tours could be expanded to include all fifth grade classes in that school district. The list of guest speakers could be expanded to cover all the fifth grade classes as well. The aviation club could be expanded to be an acknowledged afterschool program. The school may realize there is enough interest to work specific aviationÂrelated activities into the dayÂtoÂday curriculum, as noted in the state and national standards outlined in Chapter 2. Finally, there may be a more conscious effort to expose students to the aviation careers by the counselors. The interviews and case study examples have shown that partnerships are essential. One organization cannot build the career pathway alone. The career pathway is a collective, collabÂ orative effort of many organizations. By building a pathway in which a student can participate, the aviation industry can continue to grow and offer career choices to the next generation. 4.1 Importance of an Intentional Pathway This research identified successful examples of developing STEMÂrelated educational proÂ grams to promote aviation as well as programs that incorporate art with the STEM disciplines (STEAM) and those programs not affiliated with STEM activities. Program examples center on the dedication and hard work of educators and organizations who care deeply for young people. Common barriers observed in the research were a lack of resources or, in some instances, a lack of understanding of the aviation industry as a whole. This made it difficult for potential program providers and, in particular, educators, to embrace a holistic approach to spark the imaginations of children and maintain that interest from elementary ages through college. A good example of the differences can be found first in the many challenges and opportunities that exist in using aviation to promote STEM education. Figure 2 summarizes the primary challenges and opportunities cataloged from project interviews. 4.1.1 Aviation Education Management System While the researchers identified many successful camps, workshops, and educational proÂ grams, the holistic pathway that engages students from a young age through postÂcollege was notably absent. For lasting success, diverse educational programs must be created and planned. These diverse educational programs would be within a larger vision of creating and managÂ ing a pathway program to a career in aviation while encouraging educational recipients then to return and volunteer. Figure 3 reflects this concept, which is a sixÂstep aviation education management system (AEMS). The research team suggests that a holistic system to manage aviation education should start in elementary school, progress to middle school and high school, and then extend to either the universities or careerÂfocused training programs, leading to a career in aviation. The system most successfully culminates with a return of those new aviation professionals, who volunteer and inspire within the system that helped shape their careers. By building a pathway in which a student can participate, the aviation industry can continue to grow and offer career choices to the next generation.
34 Developing Innovative Strategies for Aviation Education and Participation The AEMS is based on a sixÂstep process forming a continuous cycle that fosters engagement at each phase to support participation in the aviationÂrelated activities that lead to aviation careers. Figure 3 illustrates the AEMS process. A champion advocates for the program and a proper venue to accomplish each of the six steps within the continuous life cycle: Step 1. Spark the Interest (elementary students). For example, camps at museums, educational organizations, or classroom activities Step 2. Continue the Interest (middle school). For example, camps at museums, educational organizations, or classroom activities Step 3. Establish a Pathway for a Career (high school). For example, school curriculum, aviationÂ focused high school, scholarship, camps at museums, educational organizations, or classroom activities Step 4. Find a Program (postsecondary). For example, training and certification, degree programs, internships, volunteer opportunities Step 5. Employed as an Aviation Professional. For examples, see Chapter 3 Step 6. Give Back to Aviation Organizations. For example, â¢ Join aviation industry groups and clubs and give back to local aviation educational orgaÂ nizations to educate the next generation. â¢ Contribute to scholarships . â¢ Volunteer. Figure 2. Primary challenges and opportunities to promote STEM education.
Pathway to Establishing an Aviation Career Program 35 4.1.2 Tailoring a Pathway for a Champion or Organization The AEMS concept promotes creating a clear plan that brings together the many educational opportunities available. For example, there are more than 100 of these educational opportuniÂ ties catalogued in a standalone PDF as landing pages and within this report as career choices (Chapter 3), organizational writeÂups (Chapter 4), and case studies (Chapter 6). A number of these educational opportunities could be combined to create a functional pathway within a specific setting, system, or region. It is not only the steps but also the interaction of the steps of the AEMS that define the success of the life cycle created. The AEMS life cycle explains how to create a successful pathway program, but each champion or organization will need to evaluate how best to engage students at different levels for a successful tailored AEMS based on their specific resources and capabilities. 4.1.3 Example of a Pathway Program An interesting example of a fledgling pathway program is the work related to the Coleman A. Young International Airport (formerly the Detroit City Airport), as an offshoot of a project 1 n Elementary School Activities > Camps & Activities through Museums, Organizations, and Groups Spark the Interest 4 3 6 2 5 n Middle School Activities > Camps & Activities through Museums, Organizations, and Groups n High School Activities > School Curriculum > Aviation Focused High Schools > Scholarships > Camps & Activities through Museums, Organizations, and Groups n Post Secondary Educational & Training Programs > Training & Certication > Degree Programs > Internships > Volunteer Opportunities n Flight n Control n Manage n Maintain n Design n Operate n Join Aviation Industry Groups and Clubs and Give Back to Local Aviation Educational Organizations to Educate the Next Generation n Contribute to Scholarships n Volunteer Employed as an Aviation Professional Continue the Interest Pathway for a Career Find a Program Give Back to Aviation Organizations Figure 3. Life cycle of AEMS. It is not only the steps but also the interaction of the steps that define the success of the life cycle created.
36 Developing Innovative Strategies for Aviation Education and Participation focused on maintaining the vitality of the airport located in Detroit, Michigan. While the proÂ gram is still under planning, Figure 4 illustrates the thought process that clearly shows the intent of the Coleman A. Young International Airport Education Association to create a pathÂ way to provide aviation education and career opportunities in Michigan, with a specific interest in the Metro Detroit area. The organization is highlighted within the tables in Chapter 7 and within the searchable PDF. The first focus of their pathway is to provide students of all ages with an awareness of aviation through venues such as career days, field trips to museums and airports, and STEMÂrelated expeÂ riences. The association envisions that building on this interest can be accomplished through more focused programs such as involvement in Civil Air Patrol and Explorer Units. The hope is that this will lead to a more robust involvement through specific educational activities rangÂ ing from development of aviationÂfocused high schools to collegeÂbased aviation programs and technical or flight schools. Finally, the hope is that this culminates in a career in aviation that allows the participants to volunteer or to give back to this cycle. Because this program is in its infancy, it is too early to determine how successful it will be; however, it appears that the association has thought about the need to create a pathway, not just single events, that provide a continuum of opportunities to engage students in aviationÂrelated education and, ultimately, result in a career in aviation. 4.2 Summary Chapter 4 has stressed that diverse education programs must keep in mind the larger vision of a pathway program that starts with youth and ushers them on a path toward a career in aviation and a lifelong participation in volunteer efforts to perpetuate the cycle. This type of program is called an AEMS, and it has six steps within a continuous life cycle. Resources collected from existing programs and organizations that are already active in aviaÂ tion education are gathered in this report. A number of those educational opportunities could be combined in a program tailored specifically to that institution or location to create a functional pathway. The key is to remember that the interaction of the steps defines the success of the life cycle created. The responsibility of figuring out how best to engage students at various levels within an AEMS falls to each champion or organization and must be based on specific resources and capabilities. n High School Programs n Technical High Schools n Colleges & Universities n STEM & Aviation Colleges n Flight Schools Education n Airlines n Airports n FBOs n Corporate Flight Departments n Consultants n Federal/State Agencies n Manufacturers Experience n Career Days at Schools n STEM-Mobile n Field Trips to Airports n Museum Visits n Young Eagle Flights Awareness n Civil Air Patrol n Boy Scouts n Explorer Unit n Girl Scouts Understanding Figure 4. Coleman A. Young International Airport Education Associationâs concept for education pathway (Source: Newell, K., n.d.).