Aviation Career Education Academy at Wayne State flying high in spite of tough times for airline industry

July 11, 2008

Annual summer camp for youths promotes careers in aviation

The airline industry may be in the midst of a bumpy economic ride, but the industry's struggles do not seem to have dampened interest by Detroit area youths in aviation careers - at least if advance enrollment in Wayne State University's annual Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy is any indication. The camp will be held the week of July 14-18.

"We've had more interest and advance registrants this year than in the past several," points out Wayne State's Will Robinson Jr., overall coordinator for the weeklong summer program based on the WSU campus. More than three dozen applications were submitted by 8th-10th graders in Detroit and suburban schools who are eligible. Participation in the program has averaged around 24 students in recent years.

"We're told there are still many opportunities in aviation-related fields for qualified people, "Robinson says. "A major focus of the ACE Academy is to give young people an idea of where those opportunities lie. We've even added an aviation management class session this year. Another purpose of the camp, of course, is to stimulate interest in aviation in general."

Now in its 16th year at Wayne State, the program is coordinated by the university's Academic College Enrichment Services unit. Several organizations cooperate with the university in sponsorship. These include the Federal Aviation Administration, Tuskegee Airmen, Organization of Black Airline Pilots, Black Pilots of America and National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees. The ACE program was started by the FAA and is held in various areas of the country where local organizers and co-sponsoring groups are available.

"We couldn't do this every year if it weren't for our sponsoring organizations and the many people who generously donate their time and energy to help make it happen," Robinson emphasizes.

Camp participants will take flights over Detroit in private airplanes. Other activities include tours of an airport control tower and fire station as well as maintenance facilities at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Also included in the activity-filled week are a tour of the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, class sessions in flight theory and aviation history, scale model glider competition and a model rocket demonstration.

The highlight for most participants will be flights over the city from Coleman A. Young International Airport (formerly Detroit City Airport) on Wednesday, July 16. (Flights will depart from the terminal building, 9:45 a.m.-noon.) Most aircraft used during this popular field trip are owned and operated by members of the sponsoring organizations.

Students in the Wayne State program are nominated by teachers or by one of the sponsoring organizations. Participants will receive a completion certificate during a graduation session at 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 18, in the General Lectures Building on campus.

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.