Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CFF's 2013 Aviation Aerospace Science Summer Camp a Success

Lt.Col. Michael Standish, Columbia Recruiting Battalion Commander far right attends the graduation event for the students.

Story and photo submitted by the Celebrate Freedom Foundation
The U.S. Army Columbia Recruiting Battalion and 19 businesses contributed significantly to the success of Celebrate Freedom Foundation’s recent SOaR™ Aviation Aerospace Science Summer Camp, according to Jack Lovelady, president and chief operating officer of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation (CFF).

Forty-nine high school students graduated on Saturday, July 13, from the CFF’ 2013 SOaR™ Summer Camp (STEM Summer Camp), held July 7 – 13 at Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute at Camp Long.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and the STEM Summer Camp strives to enhance the performance and success of students and to promote career options ─ particularly in aviation “This year’s STEM Summer Camp would not have been successful without the active support of the U.S. Army Columbia Recruiting Battalion and our other sponsors,” Lovelady said.  “Like the Celebrate Freedom Foundation and the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, these sponsors understood the educational imperative that STEM skills mean to young men and women, their futures and their future contributions to our state and nation. 

“So, we wish to thank the state’s Aeronautics Commission, the U.S. Army Columbia Recruiting Battalion and all of our sponsors for supporting education and this year’s STEM summer camp experience,” he added.  “We also wish to thank Clemson University’s Youth Institute and the staff at Camp Long in Aiken for the invaluable assistance they provided.  Businesses, which support these type of educational activities, demonstrate a commitment not only to education, but also to parents and teachers.” 

STEM Summer Camp Emphasizes Subjects Like Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

 “The purpose of our STEM Summer Camp is to help the students understand that there are opportunities available to them in aviation,” said Dr. Russell “Russ” David, director of CFF’s SOaR™ Aviation Aerospace Education Program.  “We emphasize STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics, because this is a technological age, and most good careers ─ not just jobs but good careers ─ are in technology.

“We also emphasize careers in aviation because it’s one of the largest industries in the world,” Dr. David added.  “Aviation is such a broad field, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to get into aviation.  Most people, when they think of aviation, think about flying as a pilot.  But being a pilot is a very small part of aviation.  Just like Maggie, Celebrate Freedom Foundation’s Cobra helicopter, it takes 34 people on the ground to support that helicopter but only one pilot to fly it.”

The STEM Summer Camp’s curriculum is based on CFF’s SOaR™ Program, an academic outreach program that supports STEM subjects in middle and high schools and strives to stimulate career choices.  Eleventh and twelfth grade students from across South Carolina and neighboring states compete each year to attend the STEM Summer Camp, which is designed for 50 students.

This year’s students took challenging classes, but they also flew aircraft, trained on flight simulators and enjoyed cross-country flights to cities across the state.  The students participated in field trips to Shaw Air Force Base where they saw F-16 Fighters up close, met pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel, visited a control tower and a high altitude pressure chamber.  They also visited Eagle Aviation and S.C. Aeronautics Commission in Columbia and several manufacturing facilities in the midlands, including Apex Tool Group, where they learned about engineering and manufacturing.
Maj. Gen. John Lenti, USA (Ret.), chairman and chief executive officer of Celebrate Freedom Foundation, said this year’s camp was by all measures a successful and effective operation.
“Celebrate Freedom Foundation’s mission, which was given to us by the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission,” he added.  “The mission was to highlight for selected participants the importance of STEM subjects in high school, and their value in preparing for aviation-related careers and a full range of other careers that require such skills.  Feedback from students, parents and staff substantiate that the mission was accomplished in exemplary fashion.”
More than 300 students applied to participate in this year’s STEM Summer Camp, but only 49 were selected.  Each student had a minimum SAT of 1100 or a minimum ACT score of 25.
“The homogeneous mix of like-minded students ─ who all have a keen interest in aviation ─ was the key ingredient behind the success of the camp,” Maj. Gen. Lenti said.
The S.C. Aeronautics Commission was a major supporter of this year’s STEM summer camp.
Paul Werts, Executive Director of the S.C. Aeronautics Commission, who spoke at the graduation ceremony, described this year’s camp as a great success.  He also said his agency supports CFF’s STEM Summer Camp, because the agency wants to give children in this state and our future leaders an opportunity to be exposed to aviation.
“When Boeing came to South Carolina, they needed a new workforce,” Werts said.  “Most of the people who came to work for Boeing transitioned from the State of Washington, and we just did not have the technology at the time to provide the labor force for them.  And, of course, the labor force is critical for our state and economic development.
“So, we want this summer camp to be expanded,” he added.  “Right now, we’re just basically looking at it through the Celebrate Freedom Foundation with students who have a higher SAT.  But like I said to the Board of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation when it met in Columbia shortly after this year’s STEM Summer Camp, we don’t always need to focus on the SAT.  There are so many people in South Carolina who may not have a high SAT score ─ but do have so many powerful skill sets ─ that we need to expand upon this as well.”

“Life is a race, and you guys are our future.”

Joe Rich, president and chief executive officer of Sunshine Solutions in Orangeburg, was the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony held for this year’s STEM Summer Camp.

“Life is a race, and you guys are our future,” Rich said, as he addressed this year’s graduates who stood nearby in their five different camp groups ─ the Cobras, Eagles, F-35 Lightning II, Fighting Falcons and Super Hornets. “So, I implore you to look at what you’re doing in school, focus on what your goals are going to be, make some selections and some career path choices and go for them.  And don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t.  There isn’t anything that you can’t achieve.”

Rich said the Celebrate Freedom Foundation and its programs deserve support.

“There isn’t another venue to expose children to an experience like this summer camp has,” he added. “Quite frankly, this is it.  You’re not getting the exposure in the classroom to careers in aviation in the way that the Celebrate Freedom Foundation provides it.”

Lt. Col. Michael Standish, commander of the Columbia Recruiting Battalion, attended the graduation.

“This camp is outstanding,” he said.  “It’s outstanding to get our students out here to do these great things.

“We want to encourage America’s youth to explore options, including military service, and to just better themselves and to be better citizens over the long run,” Lt. Col. Standish added.  “STEM subjects are critical to manufacturing, and it’s something we also need in the military.  A lot of the things that we deal with, in terms of the technologies that we have, requires technical education.  And if you don’t have it, it’s very difficult to accomplish the missions that we have.”

Also sponsoring this year’s STEM Summer Camp were:  Sunshine Recycling Solutions of Orangeburg, SAFE Federal Credit Union, Blue Cross Blue Shield, PGBA (Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators), FN Manufacturing, Sysco, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), Duke Energy’s Aviation Department, UPS, Double O Radio, Mariner Group, City of Columbia, Richland County, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, SCANA Corporation/SCE&G Company, S.C. Aeronautics Commission, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Advantage Storage.

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