Project SkyLab Groundbreaking

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2020

Lakeland, Florida: The media and public are invited to join the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) break ground on “Project SkyLab”, a $4.6M expanded facility at SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus Wednesday, January 15th at 11:00am. The ceremony will be attended by many government dignitaries (state, county and city), community leaders, and philanthropic supporters.

Project SkyLab will address the ever-increasing demand for highly skilled aerospace-trained individuals by creating STEM laboratory training environments to support the flourishing ACE programs.

In addition to private and corporate donations, Project SkyLab was the recipient of a $493,000 grant from the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs because of the support of the Polk County Legislative Delegation. Although there is a ways to go to reach the final goal, committed funds encouraged the ACE Board of Directors to move forward with construction ahead of the original timeline.

“ACE is a very special and important launchpad for the aerospace industry as our programs and scholarships have caught their attention worldwide. Because of the belief in our collective vision, ACE has the potential to be a major resource in staffing the future of the aerospace industry with its next leaders.” says John “Lites” Leenhouts, President and CEO of the Aerospace Center for Excellence.

skylab ground breaking
Through Project SkyLab, ACE aims to:
1.  Meet the expanding facility needs of current ACE educational programs
2.  Leverage established agreements with higher education and technical training partners who will utilize the new facility to expand their curriculum center and workforce training programs
3.  Significantly grow informal STEM experiences for young learners

Major components of the project include:

1.   Expand scope of programs and accommodate the exponential growth of student participants over recent years

  • Laboratory learning experiences where major exhibits are moved into classroom spaces for close inspection and training
  • Flexible and cutting-edge instruction areas for small or large training programs
  • Robust and extensive aerospace media center
  • Seminars, webcasts, and other large-audience presentations
2.   Workforce Training
Provide laboratory learning opportunities and workforce training program facilities for ACE higher education partners including:
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Southeastern University
  • Polk State College
  • Florida Polytechnic University
  • and more

3.   Informal STEM Learning Experience
ACE utilizes its museum, the Florida Air Museum, to provide students with personal connections to learning in fun and engaging ways. Once engaged, ACE offers progressive education programs to develop their interests by leveraging exhibits, activities and formal scholastic opportunities to accelerate students into high demand, high paying aerospace careers.




A reception will be held at the Museum immediately following the ceremony.

Click here for additional information on Project SkyLab.

About Aerospace Center for Excellence, Inc.:
The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in STEM-related and aerospace education through its various learning centers, outreach programs, summer camps and scholarships aimed at preparing students for tomorrow’s aerospace challenges. Located on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus in Lakeland, Florida, the organization is known for its annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo fundraising event as well as the Florida Air Museum, which is Florida’s Official Aviation Museum and Education Center. ACE is the world’s leader in producing licensed teenage private pilots and delivers youth programs that engage over 50,000 students a year. For more information,

About SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In, Inc.:
SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to preserve and enhance the future of flight through world-class events, inspiring and educating people of all ages. Year-round events, including the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo, which is one of the world’s largest aviation events, raise funds for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). The SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In annually raises funding for ACE, enabling the delivery of STEM-related and aerospace education programs to over 50,000 youth annually. For more information,

Carol Cali
Director of Marketing
Aerospace Center for Excellence
Home of the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo
863-904-4002 (o) or 863-608-0498 (c)

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