by Cassandra Isackson
Director, Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2017
Your Office of Aeronautics is a strong supporter of four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in our schools. These areas of study and mastery are vitally important to the aviation industry and its future. That is why it is so important that we help our schools with guiding our youth toward involvement in STEM programs.
No doubt you have heard about the pilot shortage in the U.S. and in fact, globally. But did you know there is also a forecasted shortage of trained technicians, mechanics, aviation and space engineers, and scientists? In a recent report produced by Boeing Aircraft Company, they say that in the next 20 years, there will be an industry need for 39,600 airplanes. And these are just the airliners and large capacity cargo aircraft! Now think of the number of people and the number of General Aviation aircraft that will be needed to help fulfill that demand.
The Boeing report says, “Between now and 2035, the aviation industry will need to supply more than two million new commercial airline pilots, maintenance technicians, and cabin crew.”
Specifically, the report states that “617,000 new commercial airline pilots, 679,000 new maintenance technicians, and 814,000 new cabin crew will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.”
Where will they come from if we do not start immediately to guide and train our youth in the STEM disciplines? And the above figures are just for the airlines. Where will the military and corporations get pilot recruits? That’s right, GA! That’s why it is so critically important to introduce young people to aviation and to the STEM disciplines.
While we continue to support schools and youth with programs that are STEM based or STEM inclusive, like ACE Camp, and the Aerospace Teachers Workshop, the question remains, what can you do to help? Well, every year in Minnesota we have dozens of airshows, fly-ins, and fly-in pancake breakfasts. You can help introduce young people to aviation by taking them with you to the airshows and fly-ins.
These are tremendous opportunities to not only share aviation with young people, but to securely plant the seed in them that will grow and guide them to STEM-based careers in the aviation industry. There are many career fields in the aviation industry that are in need of fresh young minds with dreams of the possibilities for the future.
Take a look at the article in this edition of the Tech Bulletin about “airshows,” written by our Chief Pilot Jeff Flynn. Let that article be another motivational reason for you to help get youth involved in the aviation industry and in their STEM education. Take a young person to an airshow, a fly-in, or a pancake breakfast at a local airport. The result will be a win-win outcome for the students, the industry, and the nation.