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High School Students Build Aircraft from Beginning to End

By Nyreesha Williams-Torrence

July 26, 2016 - Eagle’s Nest Projects, a high school STEM education program operating in Florida, Texas, Indiana, and Wisconsin, brought seven of its student-built RV-12s to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016.

Every aspect of construction, from sheet metal and fiberglass to wiring and engine controls, was completed by the students. They’re partnered with Project Lead the Way, another STEM education initiative, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. They even teach Embry-Riddle curriculum at their Florida campus.

“All of our airplanes are built at high schools, during class periods as a part of a STEM education curriculum,” R.E. Butcher, president and CEO of the program said. “Students receive not only their high school academic credit but, in most of the schools, they’ll receive dual credit for college.”

Butcher said that 100 students had a hand in actually building this year’s aircraft, but he estimates more than 7,000 were engaged in or otherwise touched by the project.

“We take the airplanes into the hallways of the schools, to all of the other high schools and middle schools in the district, to community events with the students,” Butcher said. “We bring in the entire community and that’s how we’re able to touch so many people.”

The program’s mission doesn’t end when the aircraft are completed and there are opportunities available for students who want to continue pursuing a career in aviation.

“We have them jump through a few more hoops as a demonstration of commitment,” he said. “Once accomplished, we provide 20 free hours of flight instruction in the plane they built.”

Butcher has already met with schools from four additional states during AirVenture and is excited to continue expanding the program across the country.

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