ACE Education and public programming is literally exploding at the seams. At ACE, we need the space to continue to GROW our STEM and Aerospace STEM offerings! Through ACE SkyLab Innovation Center, ACE will build more classroom space for both formal and informal STEM and Aerospace STEM learning and museum programs while also leveraging partnerships with higher education & technical training partners who will utilize the ACE facility to expand their curriculum centers and workforce training programs.

Major components of ACE SkyLab include:

  • 8,000 square feet of new convertible educational/event/exhibit space with the ability to transform from one large space into separate laboratory classrooms or exhibit space via movable partition walls
  • A new lobby/entrance for the museum which can double as a pre-function event space or house additional artifacts
  • A new state-of-the-art simulator training lab, holographic theatre/planetarium, and aerospace resource center
  • A new ACE corporate headquarters and educator planning space
  • New signature interactive installations and initiatives within the ACE Florida Air Museum that pair directly with STEM and Aerospace STEM educational offerings


The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), a nationally recognized leader in STEM and Aerospace STEM educational tourism destination located on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus. We need your support as we take the next step in creating a learning center that engages students of all ages and takes them all the way from the wonder of inspiration to a life filled with aviation love and learning.

ACE SkyLab Innovation Center is the solution to a worldwide need for a STEM-prepared and Aerospace STEM-prepared workforce. This is particularly true for pilots and technicians needed to support the growing aerospace industry.

ACE SkyLab Innovation Center includes a brand new educational laboratory classroom. This expansion has significantly grown our STEM and Aerospace STEM learning ecology footprint. By increasing the footprint, ACE will further enhance its role as a key facilitator in creating a pipeline of aerospace and engineering professionals for aerospace companies in the U.S. and all over the world. Not only that, ACE SkyLab Innovation Center now has expanded capacity for ALL of ACE’s STEM and Aerospace STEM programming which includes:

  • STEM and Aerospace STEM Discovery at the ACE Florida Air Museum –where people of all ages are introduced to innovators and inventions both past and present as well as hands-on STEM and Aerospace STEM learning exhibits
  • Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) –where high school students train for aerospace career paths as professional pilots, mechanics, drone operators, avionics technicians, and engineers
  • The Lakeland Aero Club –where students spend after-school hours developing aerospace skills by building, maintaining, and flying real aircraft
  • ACE Buehler Restoration and Skills Center – where adults and students collaborate together to tackle challenging aircraft restoration, construction, and maintenance projects
  • ACE Summer Camp Programs and ACE Student Outreach – where youth gain skills and knowledge while exploring aerospace opportunities through engaging group activities (such as our mobile planetarium and Kit Fox mobile aircraft) on the ACE campus and in their local schools
  • ACE James C. Ray Scholarship Program – where ACE staff mentor and support students as they pursue certificates and degrees.
  • ACE Crossfield Educational Building – where students earn FAA certification as Airframe and Powerplant mechanics.


With your help, ACE SkyLab Innovation Center supports:

  • STEMfusion – a STEM enrichment program delivered to K-12 students designed around comprehensive of state and national science learning standards.
  • Laboratory learning experiences where major exhibits are moved into classroom spaces for close inspection and training
  • Planetarium programs and film presentations
  • Seminars, webcasts, Facebook Live events, and other large-audience programs
  • Visiting museum exhibits that provide opportunities for youth to connect with science in personally meaningful ways

Redbird Flight Simulator Laboratory

By: Braden Terry, ACE Junior Intern

The Flight Simulator Laboratory will get anyone started with flying. Redbird Flight Simulations donated twenty-two Redbird Jay Flight Simulators to be used as an introduction to flying. These simulators are very durable so that anyone from elementary school to collegiate levels can experiment with flight. Each simulator has been programmed for situations specifically for newer pilots. For instance, one program helps someone understand how to land on a runway. It starts the simulation on a perfect glideslope near the runway, which anyone can practice landing. There are so many possibilities here at ACE, starting with the Redbird Flight Simulator Room.


3D Printing Laboratory

By: Anthony Benash, ACE Junior Intern

In the 3D printing room at ACE, we will be teaching students who visit during field trips or events how to 3D print, design basic models in CAD, and convert files to print. The 3D print side of SkyLab will be a collaborative part of all things ACE. We will help with the UAS Laboratory, Redbird Flight Simulations Laboratory, and the NOAA Laboratory (Science on a Sphere). Some things guests might do while they are here is help design and brainstorm ideas for future projects, including design-ing accessories, small drones, tools, or parts for different things. Or they may be given a problem that is affecting a community. Another project could be finding part of the Earth with Science on a Sphere, and they will have to come up with a way to solve it with 3D printing.


UAS Laboratory

By: Ashlee Driskel, ACE Junior Intern

Our UAS Laboratory enables the students to explore the area of drones and rockets in the aerospace field, which includes flying, assembling, and testing these systems. It allows us to see that not everything is controlled by a person but also by robots or gravity. The drones give a good example of using a control-ler or device to control the flying robot instead of using a yoke for an airplane. These drones can teach you how to take videos, photos, do tricks, and even how to fly a drone from the touch of a mobile device. The rockets, however, have absolutely no control, but they teach you how Earth affects these rockets by bringing them back to the ground. In conclusion, this room will open the student’s eyes to seek not a pilot career or engineering, but both could inspire future drone pilots to join the aerospace field.


Science on a Sphere Laboratory

By: Will Coral, ACE Junior Intern

Science on a Sphere is a system that projects images onto a sphere to be observed from practically any angle. This allows for a unique experience where you can view planets, moons, or even real-time weather without reducing the object onto a flat map. There are over 170 Science on a Spheres worldwide, but ACE’s sphere is the only one that can be lifted to the ceiling, allowing the room to be converted into a usable hangar space. There are currently 100 datasets loaded into the system, including all the planets of the Solar System, moons, real-time weather information, and even a real-time view of the Sun. There is also the ability to add custom datasets, allowing us to project practically any spherical object.



ACE SkyLab Innovation Center is a gathering hub of emerging technologies built on a solid foundation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). With Phase One construction complete, ACE SkyLab is now poised to generate national interest and exposure for STEM and Aerospace STEM education. Future aerospace professionals can now be more equipped to adapt their talents quickly to best meet the challenges of the next global pandemic because of the training they can now receive at our ACE SkyLab facility.

System thinking drives the aviation industry. During this pandemic and changing global priorities, our world needs scientists and engineers. For example, the aerospace industry mastered the art of the pivot during the crisis. SpaceX, Blue Origin, Textron, American Airlines, and other aerospace manufacturers produced facial shields and donated personal protective equipment to front-line workers. Aviation companies have designed 3-D printed medical grade respirators, produced hand sanitizer, and played a vital role in fighting the coronavirus battle. Airflow and fluid dynamics, centerpieces of aviation engineering, are playing crucial roles in health and safety issues as new variants of the pandemic present, aerospace is there to answer the call. Aerospace engineers are fundamentally system engineers. Aviation mechanics are fundamentally mechanics – problem solvers. ACE and ACE SkyLab nurture these interests from Pre-K through college.

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