Aviation High School: The Sky is not the Limit

Aviation High School Schematic, Credit: Highline Public Schools

At a time when the United States has found itself pushing to encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to keep our country competitive in the global technology market, a fresh high school concept has been envisioned to do just that. Aviation High School (AHS) opened in 2004 in the Pacific Northwest with the goal of becoming “the premier school of choice for STEM”. AHS is the only aviation-themed, college-preparatory high school in the Puget Sound region, and has recently been designated by the State Legislature as a “model of STEM excellence”. AHS currently has 400 students enrolled in grades 9-12, and just this week they enjoyed the announcement that aerospace companies have provided $7 million to develop a new facility, according to an article by Eric Mathison.

The Boeing Company led the way by announcing it would contribute $4 million toward the development of a new AHS facility next to Boeing Field and the Museum of Flight located in Tukwila. The CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Jim Albaugh, believes that AHS will pave the way for future generations and noted that an estimated one-half of the engineers at Boeing will be retiring in the next five years, according to Eric Mathison’s article. “The United States is really at a crossroads…I worry about how we’re going to keep the aviation industry and our region strong. Aviation High School is key to filling the pipeline of new engineers for the Puget Sound area.”

Other aerospace companies or gourps that pledged money to AHS include: Alaska Airlines, Esterline, TECT Aerospace, and Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Individuals also made significant contributions to Aviation High School. James and Sherry Raisbeck of Raisbeck Engineering made the very first contribution of $3 million to initiate the donations to the cause. Retired Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson and his wife, Linda, pledged to donate $1 million to the capital fund, and the President of Galvin Flying, Peter Anderson, said he would donate $300,000.

Construction of the new Aviation High School will begin on land provided by the Museum of Flight and will be funded through the state and federal government, local school district, the Port of Seattle, and private donations. An additional $1.5 million in private funding is still required to proceed with ground breaking during summer 2011.

For more information on Aviation High School, please visit their website:  http://www.aviationhs.org/index.html

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