After more than a half-century of outreach, the FAA’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Aviation and Space Education (AVSED) Program is poised for a new phase of development. STEM AVSED is the agency’s sanctioned K-12 educational outreach program, and its mission is to inspire the next generation of skilled aviation/aerospace professionals using STEM-based programs.
Created in 1961, STEM AVSED has been a cornerstone in the agency’s external educational outreach to the general public and educational system for decades. The Program was formally established by President Gerald Ford under Public Law 94-353, the Airport and Airways Development Act.
STEM AVSED is the FAA’s sanctioned K-12 educational outreach program
To help make the Program a success over the years, STEM AVSED has established over a dozen national partnerships with organizations that provide their valuable resources, expertise and networks to numerous Program activities and events. STEM AVSED and its partners have been involved in national outreach initiatives such as Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academies, NASA Smart Skies™, and the Real World Design Challenge. Local programs including school career days and science fairs have also introduced school-aged children across the nation to the exciting world of aviation and aerospace.
As part of the new program structure, STEM AVSED management has transferred from the FAA’s Office for Regions and Center Operations (ARC) to the Office of Human Resource Management (AHR). Previously, FAA regional program managers worked closely with regional employees to support STEM AVSED programs and events. Under the new AHR structure, there are no regional managers and the program is shifting to a more employee-centric operation.
Dr. Joseph M. Kools, Director, Executive and Organizational Development for the Office of Talent Development, shared that under the new STEM AVSED structure, FAA employee engagement is vital to the Program’s success. Kools also noted that any FAA employee interested in supporting STEM AVSED is covered under FAA Order, “STEM Aviation Outreach Program.” Employees do not have to take annual leave or comp time to support STEM AVSED events and activities. With their immediate supervisor’s approval, employees across all regions are encouraged to support STEM AVSED. An employee’s time commitment can be a little as 30 minutes per month.
“The need for employee participation in the STEM AVSED Program is greater than ever. As Baby Boomers retire, we face a global shortage of close to one million maintenance technicians and pilots by 2030. In the next decade, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry could also generate about 100,000 new jobs. Now is the time for the FAA and our employees to engage with the public through educational outreach, and serve as ambassadors by sharing the great opportunities within the agency and within the aviation and aerospace industry.”
To help employees learn more about STEM AVSED, and to prepare them for providing outreach support, new online resources were developed and are now available to all agency employees.
“In order to manage a national program of this scope under our new structure, we’ve developed a user-friendly, highly automated system to help employees learn more about STEM AVSED and how to get involved,” said James Brough, National STEM AVSED Program Manager. “With the new resources we’ve launched, providing employee outreach support will be easier than ever.”
Brough announced that training courses are now available on the FAA’s eLearning Management System (eLMS). The courses educate employees about STEM AVSED and the steps they can take to participate in various programs and events. Three courses are currently available: General Awareness for Employees; General Awareness for Supervisors; and an Outreach Representative course module.
To support the training courses, a completely redesigned STEM AVSED internal website was recently launched. The website is a go-to resource that has everything employees need to get involved in the Program. The new site features information about current STEM AVSED programs and partnerships and also provides a variety of support materials including a STEM AVSED Outreach Toolkit.
“To help spread the mission of STEM AVSED and continue its legacy, we need employee support. Our hope is that the new Program structure and new employee resources will drive that support,” Brough said. “STEM AVSED provides the perfect opportunity for employees to get out into the community and share what we do and why we do it. It helps build that bridge to the community. We’ve had many wonderful employees support STEM AVSED over the years, and now it’s time to grow our base of employee support.”