Former CFAA student and ACE James C. Ray scholarship recipient, Luke Liptak has joined SPACEX!


We are excited to announce former CFAA student and ACE James C. Ray scholarship recipient, Luke Liptak has joined SPACEX! Luke has turned heads ever since he arrived on the CFAA campus years ago!  Luke, will begin his SpaceX career as an Airframe and powerplant technician working on the Falcon-9 rocket engines. Luke began to track his interest beginnings to a job shadowing at CFAA on the SUN ‘n FUN and ACE campus’ in 2012.


Job shadowing involves spending time with a mentor to explore his career options. In middle school, he had his first opportunity to participate in a career shadow day when he was able to shadow the ACE President and CEO – himself, John “Lites” Leenhouts. He continued to shadow Lites, for two years in a row. Lites refers to Luke saying, “As a former student and participant of the Aerospace Center For Excellence (ACE) education, and scholarship programs, CFAA, and the local community, he (Luke) is proof of the impact that extends across generations of aviation professionals occurring at this one of a kind campus!”


In 2014, Luke began attending CFAA as a freshman and participated in the Aerospace Engineering Program, Future Eagles, and JROTC as his main three electives. The ACE Scholarship programs Luke was involved with are: the James C. Ray Flight Training Scholarship, the Top Gun scholarship, and the James C. Ray Continuing Education Scholarship. He used this ACE Scholarship funding to earn his private pilot license, and begin his commercial pilot license at Polk Stage College. Eventually, he switched over to the Aerospace Administration track and used his Bright Future Scholarship funding to cover any additional tuition and fees not covered by the ACE scholarship program.


Through the James C. Ray Continuing Education Scholarship funding, this year he was able to travel to Missouri to achieve his Light-Sport Repairmen certification through Rainbow Aviation. After reverting to Florida for less than a month, he decided to attend Oshkosh! Where he took the time to walk around to various vendors handing out business cards to showcase his career interests.  Returning from Oshkosh, Luke took the chance of a lifetime by visiting the SpaceX website!  Although he believed this goal would be unachievable, he quickly learned that he already obtained the necessary skills through his aviation experiences to be a qualified and viable candidate.


Upon his return, he decided to visit ACE’s Scholarship Director, Richele Floyd. Richele provided assistance with cover letter and resume information.  It was this step, that provided the necessary confidence that the realization of this dream and goal was in fact possible! Through multiple interviews, he earned the position of Airframe and Powerplant Technician, working on the Falcon-9 rocket engines in Cape Canaveral. Richele states, “I had the privilege of watching Luke excel over the past 5 years. From demonstrating flight theories with the Eagle Scout project, he built, throughout his flight training; to represent ACE at the Aviation Community Foundation Student Conference in NYC, and most recently, completing Maintenance Training at Rainbow Aviation, it was clear that he was going to have a bright future! Luke’s passion and determination are inspiring, and we wish him the best in this next chapter.”


SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not. Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars. Beginning on Monday, October 11th, Luke will be reviewing and following detailed work instructions for complex mechanical installations of the Falcon 9 vehicle at Space X, among other job duties. We are so proud of his accomplishment, and can’t wait to see the amazing heights he will reach! Luke states, “ACE, CFAA, and SUN ‘n FUN enabled me, along with thousands of other young aviators, to realize my potential and value within my career passion. You all have been instrumental in securing this lifelong dream job! This absolutely would have been impossible without your (ACE, CFAA, and SUN ‘n FUN) tireless efforts to improve the Aerospace industry. I thank all involved, including family and friends, and ask you to remember, the sky is just the beginning!”

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