OKLAHOMA CITY — Twenty four organizations were recently awarded Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling more than $218,000 from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission or OAC. The 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.
“Aerospace is our second-largest industry. To ensure the viability of the industry and organizations like Tinker Air Force Base and Boeing, we must have a skilled and competent workforce,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission’s aerospace and aviation education program serves this objective in a very meaningful way.”
Director of Aeronautics Vic Bird said aerospace is one of the state’s top five industry ecosystems and is responsible for more than 120,000 direct jobs statewide. Aerospace products and services are also the state’s No. 1 export, he said.
“I don’t think there is anything we do as a state aviation agency that is more important than aviation and aerospace education,” Bird said. “This is an investment in our state, our national security, and the world’s safest aviation system.”
The program, which has been awarding aviation education grants for more than 30 years, is part of the OAC mission to encourage and promote aviation throughout the State of Oklahoma.
“This year’s program received 36 applications by the May 31 deadline. Of those, 23 were recommended to the commission for approval at the Aug. 11 meeting. Three of the applicants, Battiest Public Schools, Oklahoma State University and Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance will be considered at the Sept. 1 meeting, totaling 27 grants for the year,” said Sandra Shelton, public information officer and aviation education coordinator.
Recognized nationally as having one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies, OAC has provided nearly $1.6 million in education funding within the last 10 years alone, including more than $235,000 this year.
“This was the agency’s biggest year insofar as applications received and funds approved,” Shelton said. “There were notable programs that were not recommended to the commission due to lack of funding, and in some cases, underdeveloped programs. We expect OAC’s aviation education grant program to flourish, and look forward to concentrating our efforts in rural communities while enhancing urban efforts as well.”
In order for a program to be eligible for an aviation education grant or contract, it must meet certain requirements in the Oklahoma Administrative Code. Most importantly, the program must demonstrate that its curriculum is geared toward aviation and aerospace. Applicants must provide receipts and are only reimbursed for those items outlined in the application for their program. Applicants are not permitted to alter their program and must comply with the guidelines set forth in the application process.
The following grants were approved by OAC Commissioners Aug. 11:
AeroSpace America International Airshow Inc., $25,000
Coleman Public Schools, Up, Up and Away, A Study of Force in Motion, $2,500
Duncan Public Schools, Aviation in Action, $928
Edmond North High School, ROTC STEM, $1,000
FIRST Robotics Competition, Oklahoma Region,$5000
Great Plains Tech Center, Pre-Engineering Aeronautics Club,$3,000
Hillcrest Elementary School, El Reno Public Schools, Project Lead the Way in Aviation, $3,360
KISS Institute for Practical Robotics, $10,000
Merritt Public Schools, Merritt STEM and BOILER Rooms, $2,900
MetroTechnology Centers, Aviation Career Campus, ACE Camp, $15,000
Newspapers in Education Institute Inc., 2016 Soaring Aerospace and Defense, $5,000
Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, Oklahoma Education and Industry Partnership (OEIP), $5,000
Oklahoma Education Television Authority, “What’s the Deal?” $5,000
Oklahoma Engineering Foundation, MATHCOUNTS, $5,000
Oklahoma State University, Operation High Flight, $3,000
OU Sooner Flight Academy, $50,000
Ponca City Regional Airport, Northern Oklahoma Flight Academy, $10,500
Red River Technology Center, Project Lead the Way in Aerospace, $6,500
Rose State College, Aerospace Discovery Camp, $13,500
Southeastern Oklahoma State University, SE Take Flight! Camp, $5,500
STARBASE Oklahoma Inc., STEM Flying High, $30,000
Tulsa Air & Space Museum, Inc., STEM Learning, $10,000
Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust, Tulsa International Airport Tour Program, $1,890
A brief public service announcement was developed by the OAC to educate the public regarding the aviation education program and can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrYYTPKDnDk.