Three Pilots

Aerospace Center for Excellence Adopts New Mission

As the new year begins, the Board of Directors for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) has unanimously approved a bold, new mission statement citing objectives that will “engage, educate and accelerate” the next generation of aerospace professionals. If approved by the executive committee, the new mission statement will officially put education at the forefront for all future programming implemented by ACE.

Ed Young, ACE director, is enthusiastic about the new direction and is optimistic that his ‘Big Book of Projects’ will gain traction in the coming months.

“So many projects stand ready to be implemented and everything builds on education,” he said flipping through the oversized plastic binder that holds a permanent spot on his desk. “By engaging students in interesting undertakings to stimulate their interest in aviation careers, we can hopefully increase the number of students entering the industry.”

As a matter of fact, some of the current ACE programs are already experiencing significant growth, he noted. The Pilot Scholarship Program is one of those programs, according to Young, who cited the number of recipients has recently increased from 24 to 36 students per year. Each student is eligible for up to $12,500 and is given a year to complete the program.

In addition, the annual Career Fair held during the Fly-In will be expanded from one day to three days this year in order to reach more prospective students who are interested in exploring career options in the field of aviation.

Another long standing annual event that has been given a facelift is Project STRATOS, formerly an essay contest for students, where finalists enjoy the distinction of being Student Ambassadors during the Fly-In.

“New categories have been added that will focus on aviation leadership along with an arts competition,” Young explained. “In recognition that everyone has different strengths, this year there will be more choices for competing in and will hopefully result in more participants.”

With the focus on expanding educational opportunities, plans are underway to add 20,000 square feet of space to Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum with a projected completion date in 2021. Young said the expansion will provide more classroom space for training and workshops.  In addition, the space will be a welcome addition to host the many special events held at Aerospace Discovery during the year. Fundraising efforts for the expansion project are already underway.

As ACE continues to spread the word about aviation through education, Young feels confident that a more robust effort in adjustable and adaptable programming will be the key in making the new mission successful.

SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In Inc.
Carol Cali

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