The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will host the third annual High School Aviation STEM Symposium, in Fort Worth, Texas on November 6 and 7, 2017.

The symposium will feature learning and breakout sessions that focus on engaging and inspiring young people, career opportunities in aviation and aerospace, and delivering aviation STEM education. Participants will hear from fellow educators, private and commercial aviation representatives, an astronaut, and other leaders who are focused on the increased demand for aviation and aerospace—within Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

At the request of past participants, the learning and networking event has expanded into two days and added new features, including an exhibit area where participants can meet with representatives from airlines, universities, and aviation education companies.

AOPA is working to develop four years of high school curriculum in three career and technical education pathways–pilot, unmanned aircraft systems, and aerospace engineering. Teachers at 29 high schools are already field-testing the ninth grade course, which will provide the foundation for advanced exploration in the areas of flying, aerospace engineering, and unmanned aircraft systems.

Students will learn about the engineering design process, problem solving, and the innovations and technological developments that have made today’s aviation and aerospace industries possible. Students will also learn about the wide variety of exciting and rewarding careers available to them. The courses will be available to high schools at no charge beginning in the fall of 2018, and a grade level will be added each year until the four years of courses are complete, Cindy Hasselbring, senior director of AOPA’s high school aviation initiative, noted.

“Last year’s AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium built a lot of momentum around high school aviation,” Hasselbring said. “This year we hope to harness that energy to enhance existing aviation programs and to assist other schools seeking to establish their own aviation-based STEM programs.”

Along with recognizing the importance of growing the pilot population, the goal of AOPA’s You Can Fly High School Initiative is to help build and sustain STEM programs and to provide a quality workforce to the aviation industry. Aviation industry jobs are in high demand, and Boeing recently predicted the appetite would continue for at least the next 20 years. Carl Davis, Boeing Global Services’ director of air crew operations and a symposium panelist, suggested a foundation in STEM courses would help prepare young people for future opportunities. The aircraft manufacturer and aerospace giant’s July global jobs outlook showed a need for 637,000 commercial pilots, 648,000 technicians, and a whopping 839,000 cabin crew members within that time span.