Sowing STEM Seeds of Success
Vol.8 Issue 4
Sowing the seeds of Success

Sometimes when parents enroll their students in a summer camp, they are hoping for their children to try new activities, learn something new, unplug from technology, learn independence, and connect with others. An additional benefit which sometimes happens is that students acquire long-term meaningful benefits while attending a camp. Fortunately, this has been the case with the Aeronautical Center’s annual Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy, known as ACE Camp. This year represents the 15th year of the camp, (with a two-year hiatus due to the global health crisis) but, we continue to learn about the impact that this one-week camp has had on some of its alumni. Over the years, we have been contacted by previous students expressing their gratitude for being selected to attend camp. One of the missions of the camp is to encourage young people to consider a career in aviation. Here are some success stories that we’ve recently learned about:

Camrin Jackson in 2015 (right) helping to code for a camp project
2022 – Camrin Jackson, as a U.S. Navy sailor

Camrin Jackson attended FAA’s ACE Camp in Oklahoma City during the summer of 2015. He was in the 7th grade and was open to several future options. After participating in the program, he opted to go into aviation mechanics at Metro Technology Center, but due to the global health crisis, he was not able to complete the training. Instead, he decided to pursue the field via the U.S. Navy, attending Recruit Training Command Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. He recently graduated as a U.S. Sailor and is continuing his training as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Camrin will be responsible for handling and maneuvering aircraft and keeping all personnel safe, and anticipates serving on an aircraft carrier one day.

Bryant Duong, 2022, who participated in the 2010 ACE Camp

In 2010, Bryant Duong attended FAA’s ACE Camp in Oklahoma City. It was here that Bryant learned different aspects of aviation and that there are many different fields within aviation. He also learned that everyone is working toward the same goal of improving safety and getting people home safely. It was in ACE Camp where Bryant experienced his first application of engineering through having to assemble a robotics car kit, programming it to follow a line taped to the classroom floor. Engineering concepts of assembling a product, troubleshooting the outcome and working with a team created a memorable experience for Bryant. The camp also provided him with the first time he ever soldered components onto a circuit board, “I remember feeling proud that my team and I had somehow managed to get the tiny pieces to work together successfully,” says Duong.

Even several years later, Duong recounts how he was able to listen to different guest speakers in camp and hearing a common theme of safety for themselves and others in aviation. “All of the speakers made sure to be diligent in ensuring the safety of everyone involved. The care for others and the attention to detail is something that has carried over into my current career path at the FAA,” Duong explains. After graduating from high school, Bryant attended the University of Oklahoma, and became an intern for the FAA’s Power Operations Engineering Group. Bryant now works as a full-time engineer for the FAA in the same organization where he interned.

Nathan Boone (R) pictured with Laura Shepherd-Madsen (L) at ACE Camp, which is held at Metro Technology Center in Oklahoma City

Nathan Boone attended ACE Camp in Oklahoma City during the summer of 2018. The camp left several impressions on him; the greatest one being that there are so many opportunities in aviation and a great need for people to fill them. “I learned that you can work pretty much any job in aviation, and you don’t have to be a pilot,” exclaimed Boone. Nathan graduated high school and secured a job at the airport, working for the airlines handling baggage and working on the ramp. He is currently working his way through school to obtain an air traffic management degree. “The air traffic control simulators in ACE Camp were especially exhilarating, and the tour of the FAA Academy showed me all of the opportunities I have in front of me. The simulators were a lot of fun but learning about all of the different careers taught me that there’s more than 100 people on the ground for every successful pilot in the air, making sure that every plane gets to where it needs to go,” explains Boone. He goes onto share advice to young aspiring students who are trying to decide if they should apply for ACE Camp, “Don’t rule out any of the opportunities or activities that you participate in. Every one of them is a viable career path, and it’s very possible that just like for me, you may find something that you barely even knew about before attending.”

ACE Camp Class of 2018; Nathan Boone is pictured fourth from left

Since the camp’s early beginnings in 2007, over 1,000 students have been through the ACE Camp program. It’s good to know that the work of many volunteers, sponsors and contributors has not been in vain, as many young people have been significantly impacted. We do not know the exact number of students who have opted to work in aviation, but even if the students did not to go into a STEM related career field, you can rest assured that they were provided with an unforgettable experience that has impacted the way they view aviation.

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