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West Florence students learn about STEM Careers

The Celebrate Freedom Foundation was at West Florence High School May 1 showing students first-hand a few of the STEM career options that they have after graduation.

Dave Capps, the foundation’s Director of Special Projects, said that visiting schools is an important part of the foundation’s goals to Educate, Promote and Honor.

Students look at a AH1 Cobra Helicopter

“With our STEM Education program we go out on the road to do an average of 20-30 school campus visits a year,” Capps said. “We pool grant money together so that schools don’t have to find a way to pay for our visit. Basically what we do is bring the field trip to the school. It is harder to do field trips than ever before, red tape things. So we have real-world subject matter and experts that we bring to schools.”

Capps said that the experts were veterans, from a variety of military branches, who wanted to share their personal experiences with students.

“What these veterans do when they come out is they are giving back,” Capps said. “With the helicopter, we focus on aviation STEM careers but that is because it is easy for us to illustrate. We also talk about other areas like drone aviation that they can look into.

“We bring this AH1 Cobra Helicopter to school campuses and that gets their attention, students and staff,” Capps said. “Once we’ve got their attention, we try to get them to understand that there are career opportunities that don’t require a four-year degree; eighty percent of the STEM jobs that are already out there don’t require a four-year degree. Filling out the top level of those careers, of course, they require a degree but 80 percent of them don’t.” 

Celebrate Freedom Foundation volunteers speak to students

Part of the exhibit included a list of careers in Aeronautics including chemical engineering, computer scientist, systems analyst, aircraft technician, line maintenance technician, aeronautical drafters and test pilots, and also listed a general salary for those positions.

“With a lot of these we are talking about getting a technical education,” Capps said. “Using A&P (Airframe and Powerplant mechanic) as an example, they go to technical school and in about 20 months they get an A&P and then they start learning, whether it is in a helicopter or a fixed wing jet. (A company) just right down the road from here really, if a student has a high school diploma and they get an A&P, with no experience and a clean record, they can be hired for $50,000 just to see if they will work out...Those are the kinds of things we are trying to connect students to.”