A Florida high school’s solution: a four-year maintenance program for students
With the aviation industry in the grip of a shortage of both pilots and maintenance technicians, officials at Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) in Sanford, Florida, are preparing students for these in-demand jobs.
The Aviation Maintenance Academy offers SCPS students a chance to learn about aviation before leaving high school. While the academy focuses on fixed-wing aviation, it could serve as a model for the helicopter industry. ROTOR spoke to Jason Wysong, executive director of Education Pathways and Strategic Partnerships for SCPS, for insight on the program.
Why start the academy?
Wysong: The Orlando-Sanford International Airport (KSFB) is an important pillar of the Seminole County economy. In June 2017, meetings with leaders from the airport authority and its anchor business partners clearly established a local need to improve the talent pipeline into the aviation industry.
As a gauge of student and community interest in aviation, the stakeholders partnered to host Aviation Day at the airport on December 9, 2017. The goal for this event was to expose students and parents to different career pathways available within the aviation industry. The event was open to SCPS students and families in grades 4–12, and estimated attendance was more than 2,500. Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback, the steering committee is planning for future annual events.
After nearly three years of research, construction, and procurement, the Aviation Maintenance Academy at Seminole High School began in August 2018 as one of four programs in the school’s new Career Education Building. The high school is located just 4 miles from the airport, so departing and arriving aircraft are regularly visible in the skies above the campus.