AIN Blog: State Officials Back Stem

 - March 22, 2012, 10:39 AM

The Aerospace States Association (ASA) has hit upon a new take on building model airplanes. In this case, the “models” are full size.

The ASA, an association of states with interests in aviation policy, has sent a letter to President Obama suggesting a role for Build A Plane, a charitable organization that teaches high-school students science, technology, engineering and math (Stem) skills through a hands-on experience in aircraft construction.

ASA  is a nonprofit organization of lieutenant governors, appointed delegates and representatives from industry and academia. Its current chairman is Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, whose state relies heavily on aviation. Build A Plane was one of several suggested ways for states to be partners with the federal government in pursuing national aerospace policies.

The four recommendations for building a stronger state-federal aerospace partnership included developing aerospace leadership; launch-facility development; Stem education; and aerospace research, development and test infrastructure.

“The U.S. aerospace industry is a key employer in our states,” the letter to the President reminded. “With almost $81 billion exports and a positive trade balance of nearly $49 billion, the continued health of this industry is significant to U.S. economic growth.”

In addition, many states and commercial aerospace companies are making significant investments in launch facilities, aerospace manufacturing facilities and other aerospace-related enterprise that will help America maintain its global leadership.

“Your policies make very strong note of the value of Stem education,” the letter said. “ASA is active in support of aerospace education programs including the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) and Build A Plane.” The RWDC is a public-private partnership that challenges students to design a light sport aircraft able to fly two people 200 miles in two hours or less at 1,000 feet agl or more.

The organization applauded Obama for entertaining RWDC participants at the White House and requested that “you further engage state government in your interagency work to promote Stem education, in order to enhance our mutual outreach capability.”