Beginning this fall, six high schools across South Carolina will offer aerospace engineering classes, including:
- Battery Creek High School in Beaufort.
- Edisto High School in Cordova.
- Emerald High School in Greenwood.
- Pickens County Career and Technology Center in Liberty (2018 – 2019 school year).
- RB Stall High School in Charleston.
- Sumter Career and Technology Center in Sumter.
The aerospace curriculum was formally recommended to the South Carolina Department of Education by SC Aerospace, an industry cluster supported by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
“Talent development is a top priority for our industry,” said James Stephens, chairman of the SC Aerospace Education Working Group and executive director of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. “This curriculum is a great fit for South Carolina’s aerospace industry in particular because it is multi-disciplinary. Students learn aerospace engineering principles and written and oral communication skills through presenting their projects to industry representatives.”
The courses are designed to appeal to students who are curious about the design and flight of aircraft and spacecraft vehicles.The curriculum consists of four courses: Fundamentals of aerospace technology, advanced aerospace technology, aeronautics engineering application, and astronautics engineering applications.
“We are excited to bring this innovative opportunity to South Carolina schools. These courses not only prepare students for post-secondary success but also teach them critical skills needed to fill jobs in one of our state’s most thriving industries,” said South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “This is another great example of South Carolina’s leadership and collaborative approach that will ultimately lead to a concentration of highly skilled talent in our state.”
Each school implementing the aerospace curriculum this fall will receive $50,000 from the SC Department of Education to help cover the startup costs involved with the course offerings.
“The average total compensation for a private-sector aerospace employee in South Carolina is around $70,000 per year. For young people who may be attracted to this high-tech, steadily growing industry, I can tell you that if you learn skills to work on or around airplanes, it’s likely you’ll have a well-paid job for life,” said Steve Townes, chairman of SC Aerospace and president and CEO of Ranger Aerospace in Greenville.
With implementation beginning this coming school year, the first generation of students who have completed the aerospace courses could graduate in 2019. Students in schools with a block schedule will be able to complete the courses in two years, while students in schools with a traditional schedule will be able to complete the courses in four years.
The curriculum was developed by the Southern Regional Education Board and has been adopted in schools in five other states across the nation: Three in Ohio, two in North Carolina, one in Delaware, one in West Virginia, and two in Alabama.