OK Ed Industry Partnership Secures Aviation Education Contract
Twenty-eight organizations were awarded Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling over $296,697 from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC). The record amount of funds will be used to expose more school-aged children in Oklahoma to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, particularly those in aerospace and aviation. The funding was approved by the Commission at their most recent meeting.
The Commission approved an education contract for their Oklahoma Education and Industry Partnership (OEIP) Day program held in July of 2019. OEIP is a partnership among educators, counselors, administrators, industry leaders, government policy makers and members of the economic development community focused on providing relevance and rigor to STEM education/training and workforce development while exposing STEM educators to high value careers in Oklahoma, thereby motivating students to develop and maintain a career pathway, providing professional development for Oklahoma STEM educators. Three hundred Oklahoma 5th through 12th grade STEM teachers, counselors and administrators will be exposed to three of the five wealth-producing industrial sectors in Oklahoma including aerospace and defense. The aerospace and defense day will include tours of regional aerospace companies and related workshops in the afternoon. Teachers will be empowered to link STEM and aerospace together in the classroom for their students. Emphasis will also be placed on aerospace careers. Teachers will tour Tinker Air Force Base and the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. Approximately 15,000 students will be served. The requested amount was $65,500.00 and the Commission granted $10,000.00.
The program, which has been awarding aviation education grants for over 30 years, is part of the OAC mission to encourage and promote aviation throughout the state of Oklahoma. Director of Aeronautics Vic Bird said aerospace supports 240,000 jobs with an average salary of $73,300 annually. “Last year, after a two-year study, we learned that the Aviation and Aerospace sector in Oklahoma supports $43.7 billion in annual statewide economic activity. A competent workforce, which includes our desperate need for aerospace engineers, will be needed to sustain this industry,” said Bird.
The nationally recognized program enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. OAC has provided nearly $1.9 million in education funding within the last 10 years alone.
“OAC is proud to assist OEIP as a grant recipient of our aviation education grant program, and we look forward to seeing the progress they achieve with their students,” said Catherine Taber, aviation program manager and aviation education coordinator for the Commission.