More than 70 schools will implement the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (AOPA) high school aviation science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in the 2018-2019 school year.

AOPA’s aviation STEM curriculum is the first-of-its-kind, and will offer students comprehensive, four-year aviation study options aligned with rigorous math and science standards used in many states nationwide. The program aims to provide students the skills they need to learn about aviation-related career and educational opportunities.

AOPA is developing these courses as part of three career and technical education (CTE) pathways: pilot, unmanned aircraft systems (drones), and aerospace engineering.

Each year, AOPA will release subsequent courses until all four high school grade levels of the curriculum are complete. In addition to implementing the ninth-grade curriculum in the 2018 – 2019 school year, 25 schools will also be testing the tenth-grade curriculum. The Curriculum will be provided to schools at no cost. Donors to the AOPA Foundation fund development and distribution of the curriculum, as well as other initiatives of the You Can Fly program.

According to a 2017 Boeing study, there’s an growing demand for aviation industry jobs, and it’s not slowing down. 637,000 commercial aircraft pilots; 648,000 technicians; and 839,000 cabin crew members are needed globally within the next 20 years.

“With an unprecedented demand for careers in aviation, we are thrilled that so many high schools are utilizing our STEM curriculum to inspire students and give them the skills to pursue future careers in aerospace,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “Planting the seeds for the future workforce of our industry is part of AOPA’s mission to keep aviation vibrant. We are grateful to the AOPA Foundation donors who make such programs possible. Their generosity is helping us make a difference in the lives of thousands of youth and to spur interest in aviation.”

Over the past 12 months, AOPA tested the ninth-grade curriculum in nearly 30 schools with more than 700 students, before unveiling the program. The courses are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and includes all the resources teachers will need. Lesson plans, presentations, assessments, and other learning opportunities will be taught as rigorous, engaging, and fun student activities.

Before implementing the curriculum, teachers are required to participate in a three-day professional development workshop at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, MD to gain a deeper understanding of the materials, learn about available resources, and network with other aviation educators.

The AOPA aviation STEM curriculum is part of its You Can Fly High School Initiative, which is aimed at growing and implementing aviation STEM programs in high schools across the country. The You Can Fly program, a collection of practical, rigorous, and engaging initiatives is designed to help build a bigger, stronger, more vibrant and more resilient pilot community. The mission of You Can Fly is to get people flying, and keep them flying.