FWCS, STEM Flights Partner to Provide Students New Opportunities

Record Number: 18688
Displayed from: May 13, 2019 , until: Jul 13, 2019

The Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) Career Academy is forming a new partnership with STEM Flights to encourage students to pursue STEM careers. STEM Flights is a nonprofit organization that provides students with customized aviation education and flight experiences to provide science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities. STEM Flights’ mission is to create positive experiences in general aviation and to inspire students to pursue STEM careers — all at no cost to the schools or students.

“We are excited about this new opportunity for our students,” FWCS Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. “Increasing STEM offerings is one way we are preparing students for jobs of the future.”

Over the past decades, the United States has gradually lost its technological lead in the world, falling well behind China and India, which graduate eight and five times the number of STEM students as the US, respectively, according to a 2017 Forbes article. Russia, ranked fourth, is also close to exceeding America’s quantity of STEM graduates.

“The number of high-tech American jobs being outsourced each year is staggering,” states Dave Brubaker, a retired Brigadier General of the US Air Force and STEM Flights chairman. “We see the problem manifest itself in a current crisis with the number of pilots we produce. The Airlines and US military are especially critically short on pilots and aircrews - a serious concern in an increasingly contentious world.”

STEM Flights is a Virginia-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides no-cost STEM education and flight experiences to high school-aged young adults. The program starts online or in the classroom and continues into the aircraft cockpit with a customized “mission” that relates to specific STEM objectives.

STEM Flights partners with high schools or other education organizations to select the candidates and design a mission that reflects his/her interests. The students are then matched with a volunteer pilot from the local community for final mission planning and execution. Follow-up and feedback include critique, career guidance and resource assistance.

STEM Flights was founded by retired career Air Force fighter pilot General Brubaker, who was born and raised in Fort Wayne and flew for many years with the Indiana Air National Guard. With the help of family and friends, STEM Flights has already begun operations in central Virginia with plans to eventually make STEM Flights available throughout the country.

“We rely heavily on local communities for support. Individuals and companies who donate time, aircraft and/or financial support can inspire a whole new generation of pilots and help America regain technical leadership through STEM career choices by our youth,” Brubaker said.

The ribbon cutting, first flight and media event will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, May 31, in the Sweet Aviation hangar at Smith Field Airport in Fort Wayne. Representatives from FWCS, STEM Flights, the Indiana Air National Guard and several local distinguished veterans and aviation enthusiasts will attend.

For more information, contact Krista Stockman, FWCS Public Information Officer, at (260) 467-2022 or krista.stockman@fwcs.k12.in.us, or Carley Walker, STEM Flights, at (703) 851-7952 or carley@stemflights.org.

A special thanks to Sweet Aviation for their assistance and for hosting, and to the Fort Wayne Brubaker, Vorderman, and Terrell families for their private donations.

With nearly 30,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of the largest school districts in Indiana. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 50 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.