The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and Build A Plane report that the Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) Homeschoolers in Cuba City, Wisconsin, won the third Aviation Design Challenge to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) knowledge among U.S. high school students.
Four students, a teacher, and a chaperone will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Glasair Aviation in Arlington, Washington, to build a Glasair Sportsman airplane from June 8-19.
More than 70 schools in 31 states and Washington, D.C., entered the competition, which required that each team have at least one male and one female student. The teams used “Fly to Learn” curricula and training to learn the fundamentals of aerospace engineering and flight, and software powered by X-Plane to apply what they learned to modify and fly a virtual Glasair Sportsman airplane.
Each school was scored on how much payload the plane carried, how much fuel it used, and the time the flight took. Judges from GAMA’s engineering team selected the winning team, taking into consideration the design features based on what the students applied from the curriculum.
The students also submitted a one-page essay about how the competition increased their knowledge of STEM.
“The GAMA competition has taught us the importance of teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking,” the students wrote. “We learned a great deal about STEM, how to test our aircraft consistently, and how to make very finite changes to our plane to get better results. The competition has been an excellent learning experience for us!”
GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said, “I am very excited that, once again, GAMA will be partnering with Build A Plane, Glasair, and Jeppesen to support this amazing educational opportunity for these talented young men and women. To have this many high school students participate in the design and flight simulation portion of this competition is exactly the type of STEM education we get excited about as manufacturers. I look forward to meeting this year’s group of exceptional winners and to working with them to build the airplane.”
“Build A Plane is pleased to be involved for a third year in this important educational initiative to help bring the joy of learning STEM education to high school students across the United States,” said the organization’s Executive Director Debbie Phillips. “This outstanding learning program allows students not only to learn STEM skills but to put those skills to work by building a real airplane—there’s really nothing like it!”
Paolo Buonfante had already decided to build a Glasair Sportsman airplane through the company’s “Two Weeks to Taxi” program, but said the once-in-a-lifetime experience of working with the students, under Glasair’s supervision, appealed to him.
“I’m very excited to be part of this educational program and to share the incredible experience of building an airplane with these students as they are introduced to the aviation industry,” Buonfante said. “This exceptional opportunity to build a plane and literally fly it across the country — from Washington state to Miami, where I live — is very special for me. I hope it will also be a positive and unique experience for these students for many years to come.”
GAMA member companies are supplying round-trip airfare, hotels, meals, and field trips to nearby aviation sites of interest. GAMA and Jeppesen officials will be present during the build to offer assistance.
“We are very pleased to welcome another group of students to Glasair for the Build A Plane program this June,” said Glasair President Nigel Mott. “Every year these kids walk away energized about building a future in aviation. It is exciting to see so many companies in the industry stepping up to support this event year after year.”
To watch the plane being built, visit GAMA’s Facebook page.