Commission provides aviation education funding across state

Programs designed to get more kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have received a financial boost from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission for the upcoming year.

The Commission recently approved two aviation education contracts totaling $48,750 to STARBASE Oklahoma and the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics in Norman.

In addition, they also awarded three aviation education grants totaling $19,000 to the Ponca City Regional Airport, Rose State College in Midwest City, and Metro Technology Center and the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City.

"Getting our youth interested in aviation and aerospace is vital to Oklahoma’s economic future," said Director of Aeronautics Victor Bird.

"The aviation and aerospace industry is a pillar of the state’s economy.

We must do all that we can to grow and cultivate it, such as exposing our young people to areas in science, technology, engineering and math, and helping them develop the skills they will need to succeed in their careers.

These kinds of camps and academies serve as springboards for many boys and girls who may choose to pursue a career in the aviation and aerospace industry."

A $30,000 contract was approved for STARBASE Oklahoma to purchase a 3-D manufacturing machine for its Computer-Aided Design, Engineering and Manufacturing Program.

Designed for students in the fifth through eighth grades, the program teaches younger students how to design and manufacture a space module.

For older students, the program teaches them how to design and manufacture a visual signaling device. Program officials expect approximately 1,800 students to participate in the program during the next year.

STARBASE Oklahoma operates classrooms at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority in Burns Flat, Camp Gruber near Braggs, Whittaker Education Training Center in Pryor and the Anadarko Armory.

The contract with the KISS Institute will provide $18,750, or 50 percent of funding, for 15 teams comprised of students in the sixth through twelfth grades to participate in the institute’s Botball Educational Robotics Program in 2010.

Nearly 800 students are expected to participate in the botball program, which allows students the opportunity to design, build and program autonomous robots that compete against each other by performing various tasks.

Ponca City Regional Airport will receive a $10,000 grant for its annual Flight Academy.

The grant award will provide 60 scholarships for students in grades four through twelve from Ponca City and the surrounding area to attend the Flight Academy.

It will also help purchase much-needed supplies and curriculum materials.

Commissioners approved a grant in the amount of $4,500 for Rose State College’s first-ever Space Discovery Camp, which will expose middle school students to the various careers in aerospace.

Camp officials said the grant money would be used to provide personnel and supplies for the camp as well as transportation for field trips. The focus of the camp is to help students develop calculating skills that they will need in math and science. Students will also develop leadership skills and learn the importance of teambuilding.

A $4,500 grant was awarded to Metro Tech’s Career Aviation Campus and the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center for the Aviation Career Education (ACE) Camp. The grant will provide materials, including student kits, for more than two dozen students expected to attend the camp. ACE serves students in the eighth and ninth grades, many of whom come from low-income households and attend at-risk schools.

The camp provides students with an opportunity to experience various facets of the aerospace industry and encourages them to consider aerospace as a career choice.

Since 2000 the Aeronautics Commission has provided nearly $1 million in aviation education grants to various camps, flight academies and other worthwhile endeavors across the state.

In fiscal year 2009 the Commission provided more than $146,000 in aviation education funding.

Oklahoma’s aviation and aerospace industry is one of the state’s largest employers, resulting in approximately 150,000 jobs statewide.

The industry yields an annual industrial output of $12.5 billion and generates an annual payroll of $5 billion.

One in 10 Oklahomans derive their income from the aviation and aerospace industry with an average salary of nearly $55,000 compared to about $30,000 for the average Oklahoman.

Oklahoma is also one of seven centers in the world for the modification, maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft, boasting the world’s largest military aircraft repair facility, Tinker Air Force Base, and the world’s largest commercial aircraft repair facility, the American Airlines Engineering Maintenance and Engineering Center in Tulsa.

In addition, Oklahoma has 114 publicly owned airports, placing it fourth nationally for the number of public airports per capita.

A total of 41 of those airports are jet capable, meaning their runways are at least 5,000 feet long, the minimum distance needed by most jet aircraft to safely land or take off.

Approximately 93 percent of the state’s population lives within 25 miles of an airport with a jet-capable runway.
Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )