SEATTLE—A pioneering school is launching a new campus. Aviation High School broke ground on its new campus on Aug. 23. The school will be next to The Museum of Flight, near Boeing Field. This marks the next phase in its efforts to expand the pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
Aviation High School was the first aviation-themed high school in the country and since its opening in 2004, the school has been in temporary locations. The conversation with The Museum of Flight about housing the high school on its campus started even before the school’s inception in 2004, said Reba Gilman, principal and CEO of Aviation High School. She sees the school-museum partnership as a “natural fit” because both are premier aviation-related institutions committed to STEM education.
The new campus due to open in 2013 will allow Aviation High School students access to the holdings and exhibits and expertise of The Museum of Flight, one of the world’s largest air and space museums. Students will have free membership to the museum and their labs on the ground floor will open directly to the museum’s Airpark.
“We have always been committed to educating the next generation of great aviation and aerospace pioneers, serving over 140,000 students a year through our education programs,” said Museum of Flight President and CEO Doug King, in a press release. “This partnership allows us to continue this great effort and inspire these engineers of the future."
The campus is surrounded by over 200 flight-related businesses; and many have taken notice of the potential of Aviation High School to foster a new generation of individuals capable of meeting the region’s technological work force needs. Some of the earliest support, aside from state funding, that ultimately generated the $43.5 million needed to build the campus was from leaders in the industry like James and Sherry Raisbeck of Raisbeck Engineering. The high school was recently renamed Raisbeck Aviation High School to reflect their lead gift. The Boeing Company and Alaska Airlines also supported the school.
Gilman says, “There is a critical need for STEM proficient workers,” and the aviation industry is realizing that the “aviation and space related pipeline has to start way before starting college.”
According to Gilman, The Boeing Company will be instrumental in curriculum development and already some 60 percent of the school’s current mentors come from the company, mentoring staff and students. The school’s goal is to have mentors from the aviation industry for every student. In fact, even in the few days since the groundbreaking, Gilman has received many calls and e-mails from various parties excited to be involved in the school’s future.
Aviation High School is a small and personalized school and wishes to stay that way, but “wants to serve as a beacon for other parts of the country that want to be like us,” adds Gilman.