The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) brought together its largest crowd to date, more than 300 aviation and education leaders, for its fourth annual AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium this week in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hosted and sponsored by UPS, the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) conference, featured breakout sessions, panel discussions, and a keynote address by SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.

AOPA President Mark Baker said the symposium was focused on energizing educators to grow the next generation’s interest in aviation. He added that he was “excited about the next 20 to 25 years of aviation and aerospace careers” for young people.

During welcoming remarks, Cindy Hasselbring, the senior director of the AOPA High School Initiative, complimented field test teachers for their role as “the VIPs” for the next generation of aviators. “These teachers are the pioneers, and we are grateful for their efforts and support.”

More than 2,000 students in more than 80 schools are already using the ninth-grade curriculum and 25 more are field-testing the tenth-grade curriculum introduced for the 2018-2019 school year.

Hasselbring said 25 percent of the students in the AOPA High School Aviation STEM curriculum “are girls, and that is priceless to us.”

The 2019 AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium will take place Nov. 11 and 12 at the United Airlines flight training center in Denver.

The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are entirely funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit