Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) and the City of Norfolk, Virginia, have teamed to offer a STEM education program throughout Norfolk’s nine-week Parks and Recreation summer camp. The program’s mission is to reach the 1,400 students who will be participating in summer youth programs, and to provide them with age-appropriate education and career exploration in aerospace.

Dr. Joel English, vice president of AIM, noted that, “For years, we have been providing programming and support to the city’s outreach to citizens, but never before have we been able to offer STEM programming to so many Norfolk youth within such a wide variety of aviation-related programs.” Fly Norfolk will offer targeted educational programming in aviation and aerospace to five different age groups.

“I am thrilled to see the pilot program we launched two years ago expand to provide STEM education opportunities to Norfolk scholars of all ages. It is never too early to think about a child’s future. These programs will give our youth an opportunity to see all that a career in aviation can offer and better yet, provide our participants a chance to receive their drone certification and get a job before leaving high school,” said Councilwoman Mamie B. Johnson.

The Young Flyers program (ages 7-9) will focus on arts and crafts, model airplane assembly and flying, and aircraft identification. Curriculum for this program was developed within a partnership with NASA and AIM faculty. The Flying Ace program (ages 10-12) is a one-day career exploration program featuring working aerospace professionals. Students will have the opportunity to hear about five distinct aviation career pathways directly from practitioners in the field, including an airline pilot, flight attendant, aircraft mechanic, avionics technician, and an astronaut. Additionally, students will touch and feel aircraft components to understand the functionality of an airplane. To enrich the curriculum and experience, NASA, PSA Airlines, FedEx, JetBlue, and American Airlines have contributed content, personnel and support for the program.

For older students, AIM will offer hands-on training that leads to industry-recognized Federal Aviation Administration certification (FAA) certification. The Norfolk Navigators program (ages 13-15) is a two-week, hands-on course in aviation engineering and maintenance. In addition to basic concepts about flight, aerodynamics and maintenance, students will engage in projects, including fabricating flexible fluid cables, constructing hydraulic tubing, riveting sheet metal and flying drones.

Fly Norfolk’s hallmark program, the Certified Drone Pilot program is for ages 16 and older, and it leads to a FAA certification in professional Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operation. This five-day course is scheduled for August 19-23, and it will prepare students for the FAA certification, provide computer simulation practice and provide hands-on practice at drone flight at the air field at the Military Aviation Museum.

The Certified Drone Pilot program is highly selective, and AIM is taking applications through July 22 for students who want to be considered for the course. “Some of the young adults who complete the Certified Drone Pilot may seek careers in the developing fields of drone operation and maintenance,” Dr. English said, “others might pursue careers in aerospace, and all of them will be guided to list their FAA-certification proudly on their resumes to enhance their candidacy for college and careers.”

Only 15 high school students will be chosen for this free certification course, and candidates will be selected through an assessment of the students’ professional and academic goals.

The Fly Norfolk program culminates in a Summer Enrichment Carnival at Norfolk Scope on August 19-20, 2019. The event will feature historic airplanes from the Military Aviation Museum and provide a celebratory environment for STEM education aerospace careers for the city’s youth. AIM is providing this program at no charge to the city or its residents.