GAMA and Build A Plane launch second design challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and Build A Plane, a non-profit organization to encourage aviation and aerospace education, are partnering for a second year to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in high schools across the United States through an aviation design competition. The team from the winning high school will receive an all-expenses-paid, two-week trip for four students, one teacher and one chaperone to help build a Glasair Sportsman (pictured) through Glasair Aviation’s Two Weeks to Taxi program at its facilities in Arlington, Wash., in June 2014.

“After seeing the incredible success of the inaugural aviation design competition in 2013, GAMA member companies continue to build our future general aviation workforce,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “Having worked side by side with the students for two weeks last summer and seen how the competition not only improved their skill sets but convinced almost all of them to enter the aviation field, I’m thrilled to be going back to our wonderful hosts at Glasair for another build in 2014.”

Schools interested in the competition will receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane.

Teachers will guide students through the science of flight and airplane design, completing the curricula in approximately six weeks in the classroom or in four weeks through an accelerated program.

Each high school will apply what they have learned by modifying the design of a Glasair Sportsman airplane that seats four adults while flying a specific mission profile.

The schools will then compete in a virtual fly-off, which will be scored on aerodynamic and performance parameters. Judges from GAMA will select the winning school.

“We are so pleased to partner again on this extraordinary competition and look forward to working with another group of talented students,” said Build A Plane President and Founder Lyn Freeman. “What an incredible learning opportunity for both students and teachers alike to take the STEM education this program provides and then use those skills to help assemble a real-life airplane with aviation professionals. It really is the experience of a lifetime.”

Glasair President Nigel Mott added, “We are very excited to have the next wave of amazing students back at our facility to work with our team as they build the Glasair Sportsman. This is a fantastic opportunity to pass the torch to the new generation of aviation minds, and keep aircraft in the skies.”

Tom Dubick, Co-Founder of Fly to Learn, noted, “The Aviation Design Challenge provides a unique way for teachers to build aviation design into their classroom or after-school lessons and show students just how important STEM skills are in the real world. Fly to Learn is extremely proud to be part of this program again, and we look forward to helping to educate more students this year.”

GAMA member companies will provide financial resources, equipment and supplies to the build, while Glasair will donate two weeks of staff time to support the plane’s assembly. The winning team will receive round-trip airfare, hotels, meals and field trips to nearby aviation sites.

The competition’s schedule includes:

  • Jan. 6-Feb. 14, 2014: Schools register for the competition with GAMA
  • Feb. 14, 2014: Registration closes
  • Feb. 24, 2014: GAMA will send registered schools “Fly to Learn” curricula and software to complete the STEM education and competition
  • April 30, 2014: All entries due by 5 p.m. EST to GAMA
  • May 8, 2014: Winner announced at GAMA’s Spring Board of Directors Meeting
  • June 16-28, 2014: Build at Glasair Aviation in Arlington, Wash.

Teachers wishing to enter the competition should register at immediately, as space is limited to the first 100 schools. Only one teacher per high school may enter.

To see a video highlighting the 2013 competition and build, visit GAMA’s Facebook page.

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  1. Dan Lutgen says

    Hi All
    I am Dan Lutgen – one of the teachers whose team won the competition last year. It was an awesome experience for myself and the the students! It was a very busy 2 weeks to taxi at the Glasair factory. We started at 7:00 am and worked until 5:30 6 days a week. The hands-on building was out of this world and the guys at Glasair handled the students and students in a very positive way.
    The curriculum which the students worked on was extremely beneficial. The would get to design or alter a part of the plane and see how it affected the performance of the plane. In the end, they used these skills to change an Rv10 to fly a mission and obtain a final score based on the flight.
    The neatest thing about the course, was students were really engaged and would skip lunches or work through them in order to get more time. I didn’t have to badger them to do math or science and they were eating it up. Isn’t this what education should really be about… always wanting to know more.
    Great experience and I hope all who read this consider entering the competition. Win or lose – the students learns lots and have a great experience which they remember.
    Thanks for reading and thanks to GAMA and Build a Plane for a great learning experience all the way around.
    Dan Lutgen – Canby Public School Dist.

  2. Kent misegades says

    This is a joke. Most high school kids don’t even know long division these days. Airplane design requires strong mathematics, physics, as well as construction skills. The birthplace of aircraft innovation is in the home building community, and GAMA hardly recognizes the existence of homebuilders or the LSA sector, most designs of which come from homebuilders. This looks like just another feel-good public stunt in the name of STEM education, the latest trick to extract more tax money to be flushed into our failed government schools. Unleash the power of free markets through voucher-supported private schools, reduce regulations hindering aircraft production, and protect us from frivolous lawsuits and we’ll see all kinds of new aircraft designs. Get mogas onto our airports – something that GAMA actively opposes – and we could actually afford to fly our planes again.

    • John Schmidt says

      Kent Misegades:
      Maybe you are too jaded. You speak in assumption and conjecture, without direct knowledge of the situation.

      Last year, the team from Canby, Minnesota, won this (inaugural) GAMA challenge. Knowing this, I drove to Canby High School on January 2, 2014, and attended a full day of school to see for myself what they are doing in aviation education.

      And if you would have seen what I saw, you wouldn’t have written “This is a joke.” It’s no
      joke. There is some serious math, science, and engineering going on here (and, yes, I took, and passed, calculus, as an elective). The kids were able to explain to me how they, essentially, reverse-engineered the design parameters to form their winning entry.

      Dan Lutgen, the Canby aviation teacher, is doing a fantastic job, and the design challenge is just that: challenging. If you think you can do better, please, assemble your own team of students and enter. In addition to the GAMA design challenge, Mr. Lutgen is a Ground Instructor, and providing private pilot ground school to kids (every kid that has taken the exam so far has passed). Further, they have a Cessna 150 at the local airport and quality flight instructors giving dual for an agreed-upon low rate, in the interest of getting kids their pilot’s license. So far, they are in double figures in students getting their ticket. Do you still think that this is a joke? Why criticize this, especially without knowledge of the situation?

      Mr. Lutgen and the Canby aviation program students got into some higher- level math to win the contest (and, yes, they took time out of their scheduled choir hour and explained it to me), and exercised construction skills in their Glastar build, the very skills to which you witheringly refer. Also, the Glastar is a homebuilt, which you claim GAMA hardly recognizes (last year’s winners built the airplane which is now owned and flown by Pete Bunce, GAMA chair).

      Your political rant about public and private schools rings hollow (I’ve taught in both for over 30 years), and your position quickly deteriorates into unrelated topic areas of lawsuits and mogas. It’s easy to criticize from the cheap seats (as you demonstrate); if you want to talk knowledgeably and credibly, then get into the arena.

      This GAMA program, from my view, is a good one. I saw the results, first-hand.

      John Schmidt
      St. Paul, Minnesota

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