In the summer of 2016, Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC), Green River Community College, and the Museum of Flight collaborated to launch a 2-year long drone program called the Aeronautical Science Pathway (ASP) for students interested in those fields.
Robin Lee, the ASP Program Lead Instructor, believes ASP is a great opportunity for the students attending it because because they can learn and get college credit for free, which gives them a running start on their STEM careers.
“The ASP program at the Museum is a joint venture with PSSC and Green River,” said Lee. “Each year students get six classes and therefore 30 college credits if they pass all with a B or better.”
Senior Tanjai Ploykao is currently taking the UAV class, and thinks the program is an excellent outlet for students who are intrigued by a drone focused career.
“I think the program is great for students who are definitely passionate about being a pilot, UAS/drone pilot, air traffic controller, or an airline dispatcher,” said Ploykao. “[The] program not only has ground school, but other aviation courses such as Aircraft Systems, Aviation Weather, Unmanned Vehicle Basics, and other[s].
ASP provides many advantages for the participants including free school credits, detailed instruction on how to fly drones, and mentorship from experienced instructors.
“I participate in the program because of many benefits that the program offers. I am able to earn both college and high school credits for free,” said Ploykao. “The program helps me make progress on becoming an airline dispatcher, and air traffic controller. Importantly, I got a chance to meet many professionals.”
The program has a variety of classes available, which are made to inspire students to try new things and find what really intrigues them in the STEM fields.
“We completed Aviation 109, Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles before winter break and in the spring will be doing another drone class, Aviation 129 Unmanned Aerial Basics,” said Lee.
“Right now they’re doing Aviation 111, private pilot ground school and will also have classes on Aviation Weather and Aircraft Systems.”
Homeschooled Alexandria Johnson, 15, participates in the program through PSSC. Her goal of having a UAV focused career is strengthened and encouraged by ASP and her instructors.
“For part of the program, we had a course on Unmanned Aerial Systems. One of my future goals, along with becoming [an] engineer, is to become a drone pilot,” said Johnson. “This course helped me discover my passion for UAVs and what being a drone pilot entails. I learned a lot about drones that I hadn’t known before I started the program.”
The Museum of Flight has many programs and activities that focus on introducing kids to STEM. Through those programs and ASP, Johnson has developed a zeal for an aviation-related career.
“My passion for aviation started when we became members at the Museum of Flight when I was 2,” said Johnson. “I have participated in many different programs at the Museum of Flight throughout the years.”
The ASP program provides knowledge about how drones will be an advantage in the future, in addition to teaching the students how to fly the drones.
“When I heard about this program, I was immediately interested in the Unmanned Aerial Systems part of the program,” said Johnson. “I am very intrigued by drones and how they are being used now and how they will be used in the future. Not only am I interested in flying drones, I am am also interested in the aspect of designing and building drones as well.”
Students’ schedules are tightly booked with practices and meetings four days a week, Monday-Thursday, from 3:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., because passion for the outcome requires diligence in the process.