Students takes flight at Alexandria Field

Twelve young women will step out of their normal routines and into the cockpit of an airplane during the Women Take Flight workshop on Friday-Saturday, Aug. 26-27, at Alexandria Field (N85) in Hunterdon County, N.J.

The workshop is one component of a collaborative established by a DOT Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program (GAMTTEP) grant. The grant, along with numerous resources from the local community, is partially funding over 20 educational programs, including two workshops with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“The objective of the collaborative is to encourage the development of STEM related careers for women and other underserved populations,” said Linda Castner, the Central Jersey GAMTTEP program director. “The unique aspect of this collaborative uses the resources of a general aviation airport for new STEM learning. The goal is not only to encourage development of the individual, but also to create awareness of careers in the aviation workforce. The workshops use airplanes as a learning environment.”

For the workshop, Alexandria Field will be used as a community educational resource and living laboratory. Through a series of experiential learning exercises, the airplane and its related activities serve as metaphors for behaviors that can be used for success in dealing with everyday challenges, according to officials. This three-dimensional perspective allows participants to take note of routine responses and interpretations that often limit their performance, and to help them realize new, creative approaches to problem solving, officials said.

The workshop provides the flying experience itself, an analysis of the experience as it unfolds, and capitalizes on the effects of adrenaline that accompanies a foreign, high-stress situation. The workshop is comprised of classroom instruction and experiential activities, including an hour at the controls of a training aircraft.

Workshop facilitators include Dr. Sue Stafford of Simmons College and Linda Castner of Alexandria Field as ground facilitators. Rich Stowell, an internationally recognized flight instructor from Santa Paula, California, Sarah Brooks, a flight instructor at Auburn University, and Andy Phillips, a flight instructor at Alexandria Field, serve as flight facilitators.

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