Joint UNT and Tarrant County College aviation camp sees increase in attendance

Joint UNT and Tarrant County College aviation camp sees increase in attendance

Joint UNT and Tarrant County College aviation camp sees increase in attendance
June 22
15:00 2018

Last week, 22 high school students took turns climbing into flight simulators, visiting aircraft control towers and flying in planes as part of ACE Camp, the Aviation Career Education, a partnership between the University of North Texas and Tarrant County College. 

ACE camp sought to show high school students an in-depth view of all the jobs in the aviation industry, so they could find the specific path that interests them.

“To be able to do something in life that you’re getting paid for but doing something you love, you win,” said Mark Loud, aviation instructor at Tarrant County College. “You’ve already won.”

Four years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approached Steve Joiner, UNT senior lecturer in the College of Business, to ask if UNT was interested in participating in the ACE academy program.

UNT does not have a flight training program but does have a partnership with TCC for students to get a two year aviation degree in piloting or mechanics, and then transfer to UNT to receive a four year degree in Aviation Operations. Joiner pushed a connection between the two institutions. Joiner and Loud organized ACE Camp between UNT and TCC, culminating in a one week long day camp during the summer.

The program is not organized by the FAA but is supported by aviation businesses and educators involved in the industry. ACE Academy hopes to get more students interested in STEM fields by exposing them to the world of aviation.

“What does it take for a kid to flip that switch?” Loud said. “Sometimes you just have to expose them to it.”

The ACE Camp focuses on high school students so it can teach more in depth technical information than younger children could handle.

“The students love the airplanes,” Joiner said. “They really get going when they get to fly, but there’s still a lot of them that will not be [professional] pilots.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 15% of air transportation jobs take place in the cockpit.

“We all think of the cabin attendants and the mechanics and the pilots, but we don’t think of all the supply chain out there where things are made,” Joiner said.

The camp, in addition to showing the students the flight simulators and the insides of plane engines, covered air logistics, air traffic control, drone regulation and more.

Each student researched one particular job in the aviation industry and one aviation company — which were not limited to airlines but to every company involved, from those that maintain the planes, to those that create plane’s seats.

“The camp altogether has been really great,” said Colton Ballard, a 15-year-old sophomore attendee. “It offers a lot of opportunities, and it has made me want to progress more into aviation.”

The camp also informed students of the resources around, including the dual-credit classes offered by TCC.

“What I want the students to take away is that you’ve got options,” Loud said. “We’re here to facilitate those options, to help you get there and the sky’s the limit. They already thought airplanes were cool, now [they know] they can make a life out of it.”

The camp opened in 2014 with 14 students, which decreased in the following years to 8 students and only 4 in 2017. The drop was due to getting the website up close to the deadline. This year there were 22 students, with a projected 32 in 2019. Admission costs $350.

Featured Image: An attendee of the Tarrant County College and UNT ACE Camp uses a flight simulator at TCC in Fort Worth, Texas. Emily Olkkola

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Matias Masson

Matias Masson

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