A Look at How the FAA Supports STEM Education

As The Marick Group continues to share the love about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the important role that STEM education plays in shaping tomorrow’s leaders in science and technology, we shine the spotlight on one of our clients, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA has a program known as the STEM Aviation and Space Education (AVSED) program, which has been around for almost 50 years. The mission of the STEM AVSED program is to prepare and inspire the next generation of skilled professionals for the aviation/aerospace communities, using STEM-based programs.

So how does the STEM AVSED program make a difference? By inspiring young people about STEM and aviation education, and supporting various educational programs for K-12 students and educators. Programs include the Aviation Career Education (ACE) summer academies, career fairs, FAA facility tours, and educational workshops, just to name of few.
The path to creating the STEM AVSED program dates back as far as the 1930s and has been an integral part of the agency’s outreach to the general public and education system since the early 1970s. Each decade brought about key milestones that contributed to the evolution of STEM AVSED and where it is today. Here are some highlights:

The Early Years

1935 – the Department of Commerce Bureau of Air Commerce (FAA’s predecessor agency) begins working with the National Education Association to define and promote aviation education.

1943 – the CAA Preflight Aeronautics Program pays for the training of 3,500 teachers and by June of 1943, about 250,000 students age 16-18 are nearing completion of preflight training.

1957 – the Russian space satellite, Sputnik, is launched by the Soviet Union. In response, the U.S. government pushes for new efforts to reform and improve education – with a focus on science and mathematics.

1960-61 – Dr. Mervin K. Strickler, Jr., joins the FAA as its education specialist and is nicknamed the “Father of Aerospace Education” for his tireless work in promoting aviation education, publishing resources and developing partnerships and programs. Under Strickler’s guidance, the FAA increases their advocacy of aviation education and gains legislative authority for education activities.

STEM AVSED 1976 – Today

In 1976, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-353, the Airport and Airway Development Act Amendments, which, among other items, mandated the FAA aviation education program. Why is this important? Because this act marked the official beginning of the STEM AVSED program.

Throughout the 1980s, the FAA’s Office of Public Affairs, with support from the aviation education professional staff, was tasked with coordinating aviation education activities with regional directors. In 1992, the program moved from the Office of Public Affairs to the Office of Training and Higher Education, under the Assistant Administrator for Human Resource Management.

More recently, in 2012, the STEM AVSED program received the Dr. Mervin K. Strickler Award for Aerospace Education Leadership. And today, with the support of program partners and FAA employees, the STEM AVSED program continues to reach students and educators across the U.S. and beyond, to provide expertise and resources on civil and commercial aviation.

To learn more about the STEM AVSED program, visit their website. And stay tuned for STEM AVSED’s next chapter as they continue to work hard and promote their mission.