OKLAHOMA CITY – Twenty-eight organizations, including Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee, were awarded Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling over $296,697 from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC).
The record amount of funds will be used to expose more school-aged children in Oklahoma to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, particularly those in aerospace and aviation. The funding was approved by the commission at its most recent meeting.
The commission approved an education grant to make improvements to the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program at Gordon Cooper Technology Center. Those improvements will enhance the quality of student’s education experience. The program has a direct application to aviation/aerospace as they are training Airframe and Powerplant mechanics. Upon completion of the program, students may obtain jobs at Oklahoma Aerospace employers such as Tinker Air Force Base, MR Corp., and smaller owned companies. The program is designed to better instill the safety procedures and tool control practices that will carry directly into the state's aviation pipeline. It is estimated that 100 students will participate. The requested amount was $20,000, and $10,000 was granted.
The program, which has been awarding aviation education grants for over 30 years, is part of the OAC mission to encourage and promote aviation throughout the state of Oklahoma.
Director of Aeronautics Vic Bird said aerospace supports 240,000 jobs with an average salary of $73,300 annually.
“Last year, after a two-year study, we learned that the aviation and aerospace sector in Oklahoma supports $43.7 billion in annual statewide economic activity. A competent workforce, which includes our desperate need for aerospace engineers, will be needed to sustain this industry,” said Bird.
The nationally recognized program enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. OAC has provided nearly $1.9 million in education funding within the last 10 years alone.
“OAC is proud to assist Gordon Cooper Technology Center as part of our aviation education grant program, and we look forward to seeing the progress they achieve with their students,” said Catherine Taber, aviation program manager and aviation education coordinator for the commission.