The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has approved a $5,000 aerospace and aviation education grant for Southeastern Oklahoma State University. The grant will be used to help support the University’s Take Flight! Aviation Science Camp program next June.
The funding is part of $200,000 the agency is providing over the next 12 months
to programs statewide aimed at exposing more Oklahoma young people to STEM
(science, technology, engineering and math) and careers in the aviation and aerospace industry.
The Take Flight! Aviation Science Camp, which will serve 20 students in grades 8-10, will be held on the University’s main campus in Durant, as well as at Eaker Field, Durant’s local airport. Funding will go toward student housing on campus, meals, ASI Aircraft/facilities, transportation and supplies.
During the weeklong camp, students will cover such topics as aerodynamics, aircraft design/performance, flight and navigation and weather.
Scott Hensley, director of continuing education, said the majority of students who participate in the camp are from southeastern Oklahoma, but some have hailed from as far north as Tulsa and as far south as Houston.
“We really try to reach kids in our part of the state, but we are also getting a lot of applications from both Oklahoma andTexas,” Hensley said. “We were forced to cut back on several activities this past summer due to record flooding in Oklahoma and North Texas, but we are really excited about next year and are already starting to plan for 2016.”
“There is nothing more important that we do here at the Aeronautics Commission than to encourage young people to consider aviation as a career when they finish their post-secondary education,” Director of Aeronautics Vic Bird said. “It’s no secret that our state’s aerospace industry – one of our state’s top economic engines – needs more skilled workers, especially as our workforce approaches retirement age. These worthwhile programs receiving state funding are doing their part to help make sure that that happens. So we are more than happy to join them in that endeavor.”
The Aeronautics Commission’s aerospace and aviation education funding supports Gov. Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma Worksinitiative that aims to address the skills gap in the state’s workforce by increasing the number of students in the state with workforce credentials or associate degrees. Oklahoma Works brings all of the state’s workforce resources together, connecting employers, employees and job-seekers to information and programs that help build Oklahoma’s workforce.
“Providing more highly trained, highly skilled workers to Oklahoma business and industry is essential to boosting state prosperity and creating more jobs,” Gov. Fallin said. “I am excited to see the Aeronautics Commission’s support of Oklahoma Works and our efforts to get Oklahomans the skills and educational opportunities they need to find greatcareers.”
Aerospace and aviation education is one of the Aeronautics Commission’s top priorities. Since FY2001, it has provided $2.3 million in aerospace and education funding to organizations and programs throughout the state. Just within the last 5 years alone, the Commission has awarded nearly $1 million in education grants and contracts.