Policy role seen for Build A Plane

February 27, 2012

Aviation learning organization Build A Plane could be part of a strong state-federal alliance dedicated to developing national science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, an association of states with interests in aviation policy said in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The Feb. 14 letter from the Aerospace States Association proposed a role for Build A Plane, a charitable organization that teaches kids science, math, and technology skills through hands-on experience in aircraft construction, as one of several suggested ways for states to be partners with the federal government in pursuing national aerospace policies. The Aerospace States Association will hold its annual meeting March 20 in Washington, D.C.

“The U.S. aerospace industry is a key employer in our states. With almost $81 billion in exports and a positive trade balance of nearly $49 billion, the continued health of this industry is significant to U.S. economic growth. In addition, many states and commercial aerospace companies are making significant investments in launch facilities, aerospace manufacturing facilities, and other aerospace-related enterprise that will help America maintain its global leadership,” the Aerospace States Association wrote. The association is a non-profit, bipartisan organization of lieutenant governors, appointed delegates, and representatives from industry and academia. It is chaired by Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

The four recommendations for building a stronger state-federal aerospace partnership included developing aerospace leadership; launch-facility development; STEM education; and aerospace research, development, and test infrastructure.

“Your policies make very strong note of the value of STEM education,” the letter said. “ASA is active in support of aerospace education programs including the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) and Build A Plane.”

The organization applauded Obama for entertaining RWDC participants at the White House and requested “that you further engage state government in your interagency work to promote STEM education, in order to enhance our mutual outreach capability.”

Adopting the suggestions would make the aerospace states “equal and legitimate partners” with the federal government toward national aerospace goals, the group said.