When Marco Brown’s guidance counselor at T.W. Josey High School told him about an opportunity to learn about aviation over the summer, he perked up.
“I was automatically interested,” Brown said. “Planes have just always been cool to me since I was little, and the more I researched and learned about them, the more interested I was in aeronautics and aerospace engineering.”
With the average aviation worker in their late 50s and preparing for retirement, the industry is exploring ways to get younger people involved, according to Augusta Regional Airport Public Relations and Customer Service Manager Lauren Smith. The airport and the Richmond County school system created the Augusta Aviation Industry High School Shadowing Program to encourage students to pursue the aviation field.
Each summer, two students are selected to spend four weeks with airport employees to learn about maintenance, avionics, flight training, airfield maintenance, engineering, emergency response and other topics to become more familiar with the industry. Brown and Cross Creek High School’s Jinyee Ortiz are this year’s participants and will spend two weeks at Augusta Regional and two weeks at Daniel Field. This summer, the opportunity was also open to Burke County students.
Brown said he hopes the program will help him gain a better understanding about what careers he can pursue. He plans to attend Georgia State University and major in physics or aerospace engineering in the fall.
The Richmond County school system has made a push in recent years to expose students to industrial careers as more positions become available due to an influx in retiring workers. They have worked with the airport, Textron and other local businesses to give students experience in those fields prior to graduation.
On Friday, the school system and the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce placed 125 students in the Students2Work program, which sets up internships with local businesses.