STEM: Learn by Doing, Attract by BuildingGAMA’s formula

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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

GAMA, Fly to Learn, Glasair Aviation, Build A Plane, X-Plane and a list of contributors[i] annually sponsor the Aviation Design Challenge to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). A past winner, for example, included Sunrise Mountain High School (2014). The 2016 award was earned by the team from the Weyauwega-Fremont High School in Wisconsin, a school with an enrollment of about 963 students.


[i] BBA Aviation, Bose Corporation, Embraer, Garmin International, GE Aviation, Glasair Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Hartzell Propeller Inc., Jeppesen, Jet Aviation, Lycoming Engines, Rockwell Collins, Textron Aviation, and Wipaire Inc.

What did these students have to do to win this prize—a trip to Washington, DC?

Seventy-six schools around the country competed. First, they completed the “Fly to Learn curriculum to learn the basics of aerospace engineering and then applied that knowledge by modifying a virtual airplane with software powered by X-Plane.” Based on the students’ design the “software scored the aircraft based on the payload, the length of the flight, and the amount of fuel burned. In addition, judges from GAMA’s engineering team evaluated a summary of modifications each team made to the virtual Cessna 172SP, a checklist of steps involved in the demonstration flight, and three videos submitted throughout the competition, culminating in the students sharing what they learned.”

The reward for the best score is a trip for four students, one teacher, and one chaperone will travel to Glasair Aviation in Arlington to build a Glasair Sportsman from June 20-July 1, 2016. There they will build that model under the tutelage of the company’s exceptionally skilled staff, and learn firsthand about the many career options that exist in general aviation.


Comments by the participants emphasize the value of this program:

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce

“Once again, we are extremely fortunate to spend two weeks this summer with an outstanding group of students whose passion for aviation, STEM, and learning has won them this nationwide competition…They are about to have the experience of a lifetime at Glasair Aviation as they build a Sportsman under the tutelage of Glasair’s exceptionally skilled staff, and learn firsthand about the many career options that exist in general aviation. We thank our generous sponsors for making this experience possible for them, and for providing the curriculum and software to all of the schools that participated in the Aviation Design Challenge this year.”

Glasair Aviation President Nigel Mott

“This is such a great program GAMA has put together with the help of so many invested industry leaders. I can’t think of a better way to inspire young people to pursue STEM studies or to introduce another generation to general aviation. Everyone at Glasair is proud to be involved.”

Jeremy Schroeder, Principal of Weyauwega-Fremont High School

“We are very honored, thankful, and extremely appreciative that our students and staff are being recognized for their diligent, hard work in and out of the classroom…This opportunity and recognition will allow further real-world educational experiences for these students to apply what was learned within the classroom. Thank you again to GAMA for the selection, recognition, and opportunities to come for our students and staff.”

Builder Dennis Willows

“There’s nothing better than seeing the spark of excitement as young people discover the joy of aviation…Working with these deserving high school students, as well as my own family, will be an excellent educational experience for all of us, and one I’m certain I’ll cherish for years to come.”

STEM is and should be a program that all in aviation, individually and collectively need to promote for the future of flight. GAMA’s efforts must be commended and should be replicated to attract the next generations of engineers and other quantitative professionals to aerospace.


ARTICLE: Students Win Aviation Design Challenge

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