The Commission approved an education grant for the Blackwell Public Library program to be held in 2020. The funds will allow them to help develop an aviation and aerospace section to their already established “Makerspace” programs. Continuing the theme “A Universe of Stories” will allow students to have hands-on STEM activities and is designed to build necessary skills in science, technology, engineering, and math and to ensure that students are aware that those skills can lead to high demand careers in the field of aviation. The approved grant amount was $2308.00. The money will be used to purchase a 3D printer and two rocket launchers.

Grants are for targeted learning programs that have a direct application to aerospace and aviation for primary through post-secondary education. The grant funds are part of the agency’s initiative to give more Oklahoma young people access to STEM careers in the aerospace and aviation industry.

The aerospace and aviation grant program has been awarding aviation education grants for over 30 years. Charged with the mission by state statute, the Commission fosters and encourages students to consider aerospace or aviation as a career. The Commission’s grant program has years of positive results. The initiative supports the Oklahoma Works project that aims to address the skills gap and connect students to programs that will help build the workforce of Oklahoma’s second largest industry.

Director of Aeronautics Victor Bird said aerospace supports 240,000 jobs with an average salary of $73,300 annually; “After a two-year study concluded in 2017, 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”.

The nationally recognized programs enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. Since FY 2001, it has awarded over $2.8M in aerospace and aviation education grants.

“Blackwell Public Library is a first-time applicant and has the potential to really make a difference in the lives of their students. The exploration of the aviation and aerospace industry may spark them to choose a career in these fields. We wish them great success and look forward to assisting them in their program,” said Adam Fox, Aviation Program Manager and Aviation Education Coordinator for the Commission.

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission’s mission is to promote aviation, which includes ensuring that the needs of commerce and communities across Oklahoma are met by the state’s 108 public airports that comprise the state system, and ensuring the viability of the state’s aerospace industry.