Two years ago, the Museum of Flight’s education program started the Aeronautical Science Pathway (ASP), a free program allowing high school juniors and seniors with a passion to pursue a career in an aviation related field to earn up to 60 college credits. Several weeks ago, an Information Night was held following the low 2017-2018 school year enrollment numbers, and attracted over 90 people.
Sara Strasner, the Museum of Flight’s new Boeing Academy for STEM Learning Manager, was thrilled with the success of Information Night.
“Information Night was such a huge success! We had outstanding presentations from our current students,” said Strasner, “and lots of interested prospective students and their parents as well.”
The turnout was well deserved. Over the past year, Strasner and the Museum of Flight have been busy with outreach efforts.
“This was certainly an all hands-on deck recruitment effort, but our hard work paid off,” said Strasner. “This was our largest Info Night to date.”
The program also received several commitments from prospective students, who filled out preliminary paperwork to be a part of the program.
“I’m still working with interested students to get their paperwork and district approval in place,” said Strasner, “but I would say Info Night has definitely gotten us closer to our goal of 50 students.”
ASP Lead Instructor Michael Graham also showed excitement about the amount of people who showed up, displaying even more optimism for the future of the program.
“As of right now it appears that the seats will all be filled. It is still early and a lot happens over the summer, people move, change their minds or become overwhelmed with the upcoming school year,” said Graham. “So, we’ll see but it looks very promising and I am confident that we will have two full classes.”
This is a night and day difference from several months ago. At that time, the Museum experienced difficulties in attracting prospective students, leading to much uncertainty about the future success of the program. RAHS senior and year two ASP student Hunter Whitlock was overjoyed with the turnout of guests.
“I was very surprised that the effect outreach had had,” said Whitlock. “I was only expecting 20-30 people, including parents, not enough to fill the Skyline Room.”
After giving many prospective students and parents tours through the Museum, Whitlock also stayed later in the evening to answer questions. Whitlock was thoroughly impressed with how the event went, and what this means for ASP, while also noticing a change in student demographics.
“I think that it is on a good track, I am not sure how they will keep exclusivity,” said Whitlock. “Desperation for students will make that exclusivity difficult to keep, there was not a single student from RAHS, it will become more of an MoF program than one with RAHS students. I know for certain there was not a single RAHS student there.”
Whitlock’s observation is justified; not many RAHS students seem to be interested in the new program. RAHS sophomore Anusha Gani considered attending the ASP program earlier in the year.
“I decided not to [attend ASP] as the credits wouldn’t transfer over to my major,” said Gani. “I plan to complete my bachelors in computer programming and most of the credits would be irrelevant to [that] major and therefore [would] not transfer.”
Gani’s plan, like other students, did not align with the content and end goal of the program. If Gani had chosen a career path that was more closely related to an aviation field, the likelihood of her transferring credits would be much higher, like Whitlock.
“The program definitely met and exceeded expectations,” said Whitlock. “I am on track to earn all 60 of Green River College credits, and Embry-Riddle is looking to take most if not all of my credits, so it is definitely useful even if you do not continue to Green River.”
While there were no RAHS students at the ASP Information Night, current underclassmen may change that for future classes. RAHS freshman Max Welliver is an avid aviation enthusiast and has expressed a desire to join ASP when he becomes a junior in 2019.
“Right now, I’m making sure that the ASP credits will transfer to the colleges,” said Welliver. “I know I’m interested at this point.”