A teacher at the Central Ninth Grade Center was among 39 organizations to receive an Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grant from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
The total amount of grants awarded was reportedly $299,235 and Sand Springs’ grant was for $2,000. The grant will help purchase supplies for an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association-certified Aeronautics/Aviation class in Sand Springs Public Schools. Students learn how to manipulate, maneuver, program and fly drones as part of the class.
““Sand Springs is a first-time applicant to our aerospace and aviation education grant program. We look forward to seeing the progress they achieve with their students,” Adam Fox, aviation program manager and aviation education coordinator for the Commission, said in a statement.
Central Ninth Grade Center teacher Sherri McKibbin applied for the grant for her aeronautics and aviation class, which is in its second year, that now includes ninth and tenth grade students.
“I was excited…I was ready to get my drones,” McKibbin said of her reaction to receiving the grant. “(The Aerospace and Aviation Education program and companies like American Airlines) want to encourage students to get into the field because there’s such a deficit (of pilots).”
She said the classes prepare students to become licensed private or commercial pilots or to have a business using drones to take photos for entities like insurance companies.
McKibbin said she plans to expand the class to other grade levels and pursue more grants in the future.
The aerospace and aviation grant program has awarded grants for more than 30 years and are targeted to programs that have a direct application to aerospace and aviation for primary and secondary education.
“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,” Director of Aeronautics Victor Bird said in a statement.