The Liberty Gazette
November 20, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: NASA’s Johnson Space Center has made Houston a leader in the aviation and aerospace industries by supplying research and development, guiding the future of those industries. Among the many destructive decisions coming from Washington is cancellation of programs that would keep the United States strongly at the forefront of space exploration and aviation. But with the dispersal and forced retirement of key employees, the City of Houston is stepping forward with plans to grow the next generation of industry leaders and workers.
Houston Airport Systems (HAS) has created the Aviation Club, initially at two Houston area high schools, to provide focus and support for students who’ve shown a desire to enter this field. The club will engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math, which is critical if America is to maintain its leadership in space exploration. Currently offered at Sterling High School and Carnegie Vanguard High School, plans are in the works to expand the program across the Houston ISD by next year. Sterling already has an aviation magnet program so it makes sense that this should be one of the “starter” schools.
Houston continues to lead the nation in the creation of jobs during a difficult economy mostly due to more entrepreneurial business-friendly laws and tax structure. This new education program focuses on one of the city’s strongest sectors, with the ultimate goal to build a workforce to accept the challenges for tomorrow’s aviation and aerospace jobs. While there are certainly some lower paying non-technical jobs in the industry, the city of Houston realizes that the skilled technical jobs the aerospace and aviation industry provides are the ones that really help the city’s economic structure.
Mario Diaz dreamed of aviation when he was growing up. Today Mario is the Director of the Houston Airport System. He feels early exposure to the industry was critical for his career path. As a teenager, he became fascinated with aviation, became a pilot and later an executive for airports in three major U.S. cities. He has long wanted to create an initiative that would launch the passion for flying in the next generation of aviators and space pioneers. Looks like Houston is the lucky winner.
Bob Mitchell is the president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. Understanding that students have many career choices but also face many distractions, Mitchell believes the new Aviation Club will introduce them to some of the most exciting career opportunities available now and in the future.
In monthly two-hour sessions students will learn from mentors and through enrichment activities. The criteria for participation in the club include being a student from Sterling High School or Carnegie Vanguard High School campuses in grades 9-12 (later to be expanded to all Houston ISD schools), be in good standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5, maintain satisfactory attendance at meetings throughout the year and have a desire to exploring post-secondary educational and career opportunities in aerospace or aviation.
The program is designed to encourage growth in all these technical fields as well as encourage a solid work ethic, and discover a passion that makes them look forward to each work day.