Op-Ed: Aerospace Scholars program gives students opportunity to build Washington’s future

With Boeing’s decision to build a second 787 line in South Carolina, there’s little doubt the aerospace industry in Washington will need to become more competitive in the future. An important component to retaining a viable, profitable aerospace industry in our state is a highly-skilled and trained workforce, ranging from engineers to the line workers who tighten the bolts.

That’s why I am very pleased that a FREE program is being offered to Washington’s high school juniors that will allow them to apply their talents in the field of aerospace. The Washington Aerospace Scholars program offers students the ability to explore the challenges and opportunities awaiting them in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The program is offered in two phases. In phase one, students complete a series of online lessons designed by NASA that are due every two weeks, starting Dec. 22 and continuing through May of next year. The lessons include items such as the math equations used to designate the correct timing for the re-entry of the space shuttle into the earth’s atmosphere so it can successfully land at one of the three designated landing strips in the United States. Another lesson explores the calculations engineers would use to send a spacecraft to Mars. Students are also asked to design an innovation that would be able to assist astronauts to construct a space station in outer space.

At the end of phase one, up to 160 of the top-performing students who meet the program’s qualifications will be chosen to participate in phase two. The next phase is a six-day summer residency program. Under this program, students will work with professional engineers and scientists at the Museum of Flight in Seattle where they will participate in various activities and challenges. Some of the activities include discussions of space flight, designing an interplanetary mission to Mars, building and launching model rockets, design and testing of payload lofting systems, landing devices and robotic rovers. All lodging, meals and travel arrangements are handled by the program and, again, it is free of charge to participants.

To participate, applicants must be:

  • U.S. citizens;
  • At least 16 years of age;
  • Washington state residents;
  • Currently juniors in high school;
  • Interested in math, science, engineering or technology;
  • Able to access the Internet (from home, school or a public library); and
  • Committed to completing online lessons to qualify for the residential experience.

I highly encourage local students to look into this program, which is a wonderful hands-on learning experience and a great foundation for a future career in Washington’s aerospace industry.

Applications are available at: www.museumofflight.org/washingtonaerospacescholars. The deadline is this Friday, Nov. 6. For more information, contact Melissa Edwards, program administrator, at (206) 764-5866 or via e-mail at medwards@museumofflight.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000