Aviation Career program

American Airlines & CR Smith Museum Launch Aviation STEM Program

American Airlines and the CR Smith Museum have joined forces to launch the Aviation Career Pathways program, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering the next generation of aviation professionals.

This comprehensive program is tailored for middle and high school students, offering them invaluable access to aviation STEM education and a glimpse into the myriad of career opportunities within the industry. Initially, the program will be rolled out to students in grades seven through twelve across various schools within the Dallas Independent School District, with plans for expansion to other schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and potentially nationwide in the future.

The Aviation Career Pathways program is meticulously designed to translate complex science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts into tangible aviation career opportunities. This is particularly crucial in underserved communities, where access to such resources is often limited. The majority of schools participating in the program are Title 1 schools, highlighting the program’s commitment to making aviation careers accessible to all. The CR Smith Museum, an independent nonprofit organization situated on American Airlines’ campus in Fort Worth, has conducted extensive research to understand these challenges and has placed their solutions at the core of their educational programming.

Marie Eve Poirier-Harris, Education Director at the CR Smith Museum, explains, “We’ve identified three main challenges through research and discussions with school leaders: the need for multiple touch points, the necessity for experiences beyond presentations, and the issue of limited transportation in underserved communities. The Aviation Career Pathways program addresses these challenges head-on, bringing the program directly to the classrooms, providing a variety of hands-on experiences, and facilitating connections with industry professionals.”

Students participating in the program will have the opportunity to engage in four to seven touch points, offering them a chance to experience real-life aviation scenarios. These touch points range from in-classroom activities to participation in the CR Smith Museum’s annual Aviation Career Day. Additionally, students will have the chance to connect with American Airlines team members who have overcome similar challenges and can provide guidance and support.

Approximately 15 American Airlines team members volunteer to coordinate and execute the Aviation Career Pathways program. Karon Washington, an engineer at American Airlines, plays a crucial role in curriculum development and leading volunteer outreach efforts. Karon’s personal journey, from searching for career guidance on Google to becoming an engineer, highlights the transformative power of early exposure and relatable role models in STEM and aviation careers.

Preliminary survey results from the program have shown a 32% increase in students’ interest in pursuing a career in the airline industry, demonstrating the program’s immediate impact. Marie Eve Poirier-Harris emphasizes the importance of equity, inclusion, and belonging in this initiative, stating, “Providing these students with resources they might not have access to otherwise can be life-changing for this generation and their families.”

While the Aviation Career Pathways program is currently focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the CR Smith Museum offers resources to students nationwide, including access to student professional organizations and information about career programs, ensuring that the next generation of aviation professionals is diverse, well-educated, and ready to take on the challenges of the industry.

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