The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation and two technology centers were among 38 organizations that received Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling over $330,000 from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
The record amount of funding will be used to encourage more of Oklahoma’s students to enter STEM careers, particularly those in aerospace and aviation.
OEIP is a professional development program for teachers designed by the Oklahoma Career Tech Foundation to connect educators to industry to create a better-educated, trained workforce. At each of four OEIP sites located in technology centers across the state, teachers will have the opportunity to take industry tours and learn from business and industry leaders. Approximately 300 teachers are expected to participate in the program. OEIP was approved for a $10,000 grant.
Mid-Del Tech was approved for a $4,000 grant for its aircraft structures and heavy maintenance course, which is designed to teach students the skills needed for the aerospace workforce. The program will provide students with the resources needed to acquire work-ready skills in electricity, sheet metal and composites. Thirty students are expected to participate.
Metro Tech received grants for two programs: a mobile STEM lab and the ACE Camp program it operates with FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center.
The mobile STEM lab was approved for a $10,000 grant. It will provide students in the Oklahoma City metro area the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities that will introduce them to flight, space and 3D engineering. Approximately 1,000 students are expected to participate.
ACE Camp, a week-long summer camp, will expose students to STEM curriculum and will allow them to participate in hands-on activities that will introduce the history of aviation, aviation safety and airport operations. Fifty students are expected to participate in the camp, which was approved for a $13,250 grant.
Grants are awarded for targeted learning programs that have a direct application to aerospace and aviation for primary through post-secondary education. The grant funds are part of the agency’s initiative to give more Oklahoma young people access to STEM careers in the aerospace and aviation industry.
The aerospace and aviation grant program has been awarding aviation education grants for more than 30 years. Charged with the mission by state statute, the commission fosters and encourages students to consider aerospace or aviation as a career. The commission’s grant program has years of positive results. The initiative supports the Oklahoma Works project that aims to address the skills gap and to connect students to programs that will help build the workforce of Oklahoma’s second largest industry.
Director of Aeronautics Victor Bird said aerospace supports 240,000 jobs with an average salary of $73,300 annually.
“After a two-year study concluded in 2017, we learned that the aviation and aerospace sector in Oklahoma supports $43.7 billion in annual statewide economic activity. A competent workforce, which includes the critical need for aerospace engineers, will be needed to sustain this industry,” Bird said.
The nationally recognized program enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. Since FY2001, it has awarded more than $2.8 million in aerospace and aviation education grants.