Call To Action

Cirrus Co-Founder & CEO Dale Klapmeier, Founding Chair of AirSpace Minnesota (left) is pictured with Deputy Commissioner Charlene Briner, Minnesota Department of Education, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Doug Paulson, Minnesota Department of Education STEM Specialist.

Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) hosted the first AIA Upper Midwest STEM Workforce Forum with AirSpace Minnesota on October 6-7 at the Minnesota Department of Education Conference Center in Roseville, Minnesota.  This gathering of 100 state and national thought leaders from academia, K-12 education, government and industry featured opening remarks by Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Designed as a call to action to address the significant growth needed in science-literate workers, the Forum supported a dialogue on the need to work together to design and build a strong STEM* pathway that engages students throughout K-12 and beyond, connecting them with practitioners, career awareness and education and training opportunities. (STEM = science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

Forum partners included Aerospace States Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, the Minnesota High Tech Association and SciMathMN.

Why aerospace?  Historically, institutions from 3M to Mayo Clinic have benefited from aerospace-related opportunities, which contributed significantly to the foundations of Minnesota’s tech industry. As a new chapter of human exploration unfolds, the aerospace/aviation industry and the large infrastructure that supports it are growing, creating high-tech, high-paying jobs at companies that now include Google and Facebook.

The Forum highlighted these compelling themes:

⦁Capacity in additive manufacturing, augmented reality, big data and analytics, cybersecurity and more has become essential.  There are extraordinary new opportunities in unmanned systems (infrastructure, applications, systems, vehicles), autonomy and robotics (analysis, automation, reduced crew), energy and propulsion (hybridization, batteries) and breakthroughs (energy, operations, configurations, materials, manufacturing).

⦁The unique capacity of flight to inspire imaginations and explore and shape our world can be a powerful catalyst for engaging learners.  This important engagement starting in elementary and middle school can help build a foundation for students to pursue any type of STEM-related endeavor, providing myriad opportunities to solve important challenges.

⦁Sadly, K-12 educators, students and parents lack sufficient awareness of these opportunities – many of which can be pursued with certifications or 2-year degrees. To provide equitable education to all and to meet future citizenship and workforce needs, dramatic changes are needed now to build an ecosystem that effectively serves all learners.

Visit the summaries and galleries for a snapshot of the tremendous leadership at the Forum. Thank you to all the participants for this invaluable dialogue and support for the work to come.

*All photos courtesy of ©2016 Larry Grace Photography for AirSpace Minnesota