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The month of August sends youth back to school, which means a returned focus on vectoring young minds toward the exploration of aviation and aerospace for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC).
Twenty-eight organizations were recently awarded Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling $296,697 from the OAC. The record amount of funding is a vital resource to educators for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction concentrating on aerospace and aviation. The funding was approved by the commission at its Aug. 9 meeting.
The program, which has been awarding aviation education grants for over 30 years, is part of the OAC mission to encourage and promote aviation throughout the state of Oklahoma. Director of Aeronautics Vic Bird said aerospace supports 240,000 jobs with an average salary of $73,300 annually.
“Last year, after a two-year study, we learned that the aviation and aerospace sector in Oklahoma supports $43.7 billion in annual statewide economic activity. A competent workforce, which includes our desperate need for aerospace engineers, will be needed to sustain this industry,” said Bird.
The nationally recognized program enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. OAC has provided nearly $1.9 million in education funding within the last 10 years alone.
“This year’s program received 31 applications by the May 31 deadline. Of those, 28 were recommended to the commission for approval,” said Catherine Taber, aviation program manager and aviation education coordinator for the commission.
“Much like last year, the sum for funding requests was substantial, totaling $651,624. Eight applicants were new to the program including the City of Altus, Gordon Cooper Technology Center, and Okmulgee and Owasso Public School,” Taber said.
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.