Oklahoma CareerTech programs in high schools and technology centers now have access to free aerospace curriculum.
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education recently signed a contract with Choose Aerospace to provide curriculum. Choose Aerospace is a nonprofit organization of aerospace industry stakeholders and is managed by the Aviation Technician Education Council. The aviation curriculum is designed to place students on the path to FAA mechanic certification.
“At CareerTech, what we work off of is demand,” said Brent Haken, Oklahoma CareerTech state director. “We don’t create a supply of workforce; we create a workforce because of the demand that’s out there in the industry, and that’s why Oklahoma CareerTech is so strong, why we’ve been so nimble, and that’s what we’re doing in the aerospace industry.”
Aerospace is the No. 2 industry in Oklahoma, Haken said, but there is a growing need for more certified mechanics. ATEC is forecasting a major workforce shortage; in November, ATEC President James Hall said the pipeline of students entering the field needs to increase by 20 percent to meet industry needs.
Oklahoma CareerTech is working to meet those needs through Choose Aerospace, Haken said.
“We are working right now to make sure every CareerTech school has licenses for any student that’s enrolled in those programs and wants to take part in Choose Aerospace. We’re going to make sure that happens through the Department of CareerTech,” he said.
A few Oklahoma schools used the Choose Aerospace curriculum last year at a cost of $200 per student, said Tonja Norwood, manager of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics education division at Oklahoma CareerTech.
“If a school had a class of 20 times $200, that equaled $4,000,” she said. “Now it will be free, so schools can teach the curriculum at no cost.”
Oklahoma CareerTech is paying for the curriculum with federal grant money received through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The act, commonly called Perkins V, is designed to provide students across the country with opportunities to develop skills and earn certifications that will help them advance in their careers.
The CareerTech STEM division has worked with ATEC and Choose Aerospace to align the 12 FAA modules to STEM courses that count for Oklahoma’s Promise credit, Norwood said. Schools already signed up to teach the curriculum in the state are Broken Arrow, Moore, Okmulgee, Putnam City, Tulsa, Sand Springs and Yukon.
The Choose Aerospace curriculum is intended for high school juniors and seniors, but its modular design means schools and tech centers can adjust to meet their program needs. The curriculum aligns with Federal Aviation Administration Airman Certification Standards. Students who complete the curriculum can continue their education or go straight into the industry, said Ryan Goertzen, Choose Aerospace president.
For more about Choose Aerospace, watch a video from a teacher training session earlier this month at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgZmdb98Sqc.
Any school that is interested in the curriculum can contact the CareerTech STEM division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-743-5187.
Oklahoma CareerTech: Education that works for you
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 17 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy providers.
The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.