Aviation and Aerospace is Oklahoma’s second-largest industry and a major economic driver for the state. In order to meet workforce challenges, Oklahoma schools – Marietta among them – are leading the nation in the adoption of curriculum aimed at building programs to ensure the growth of Oklahoma’s aviation, aerospace, and defense industry workforce.

Erin Hanson, who will be teaching Aviation/Aeronautics at Marietta, attended a training session on the University of Oklahoma campus July 11-14. Hanson, along with 60 other teachers from across the state, participated in activities designed to aid in implementation of the specialized “You Can Fly High” curriculum.

Hansen is enthused about the new program.

“Here at Marietta we have highly gifted and motivated students and we want to offer them an exciting opportunity to explore the various STEM careers in aviation,” she said. “Marietta High School will offer year one of the four-year aviation curriculum provided by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.”

If student interest supports it, the district has plans to expand the program past year one. The curriculum is developed by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to be fun, yet challenging experience that students could eventually build a career upon.

The course will provide the foundation of advanced exploration in the areas of flying and unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. Students will learn about the engineering design process, problem solving, and innovative technological developments used in the industry. They’ll also learn about the history of flight.

“The class will allow students to gain a historical perspective starting with the earliest flying machines and continuing to the variety of modern aircraft and the integral role they play in making today’s world work,” Hanson explained. “It’s amazing to realize these problem-solving processes and innovative leaps took space exploration from fiction to fact in just one generation.”

Hansen thoroughly enjoyed the training and hopes that transfers into the classroom.

“The training I experienced was hands-down the best professional development I’ve ever gone through,” she said. “On the first day, the first item on the agenda was a flight lesson. I had an instructor sitting next to me. I taxied, took off, and flew around Norman for about 30 minutes before he landed the plane. I was hooked!”

During the workshop, Hansen toured the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center where 76,000 students from 170 countries are trained annually in the FAA Academy. The remainder of the training was spent learning the curriculum and projects that she will use in the classroom.

“I’m honored to be a part of this new class at Marietta,” Hansen concluded. “It’s an exciting opportunity for students to set their goals high and see how their dreams can come true in an aviation career.”

And it can happen right here in Oklahoma.