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American Airlines CR Smith Museum Encourages North Texas Teens to Explore Careers in Aviation and STEM

FORT WORTH, Texas — National STEM Day came early this year for hundreds of students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who participated in the American Airlines CR Smith Museum Aviation Career Day Nov. 4.

The Museum’s career day was unique in that, in addition to connecting students with professionals in STEM-focused aviation fields, participants also engaged with hands-on activities to explore the concepts for themselves.

“Our education programming focuses on helping students build self-efficacy and self-identity toward STEM and aviation careers,” said Uli Sailer Das, Executive Director at the CR Smith Museum. “During the Aviation Career Day, and with any programs in our portfolio, students roll up their sleeves and try concepts first-hand to build confidence in STEM subject areas. We’re purposeful with bringing in professionals who reflect all communities, so students can see themselves in careers they haven’t considered.” 

Watch video to learn more about the day.

Supporting students from underrepresented communities

According to a recent study published by Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic workers remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Black workers make up 9% of adults employed in STEM occupations, while Hispanic workers make up 8%. Women make up less than a quarter of professionals in computing and engineering fields.

“We understand there is an opportunity to help students from underrepresented communities learn the skills needed for STEM and aviation-related fields,” said Marie Eve Poirier-Harris, the Museum’s Education Director. “At the CR Smith Museum, we’re hyper-focused on becoming the bridge to connect students to skill-building resources and career opportunities that can be life-changing.”

Students role playing in Museum’s Airline Command Center.

The CR Smith Museum partnered with Title I schools in North Texas to ensure students from underrepresented communities attended the career day. More than 60 American Airlines team members and industry partners, including Thales and the American Airlines Federal Credit Union, volunteered to provide insight to students about resources available to kickstart their STEM and aviation career dreams.

Elis Rosa Santaella, a museum volunteer and Envoy Air First Officer, spent the day speaking to students one on one about the path to becoming a pilot. Elis, who was exposed to aviation early in his childhood, expressed the importance of sharing the different pathways in the industry.

“A lot of people don’t know that from one aircraft so many careers can come from it, whether it’s a pilot, mechanic, flight attendant, dispatcher, IOC — there’s a wide spectrum of careers,” he said. “A lot of times students don’t know how to get started. More children should know about the resources at their disposal, and that’s what events like Aviation Career Day can do for them.”

Fun activities make STEM concepts fun and enticing

Alysea, a ninth-grade student from Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Grand Prairie, Texas, participated in the Museum’s morning session.

“I want to be an aerospace engineer,” she said. “Today’s activities have shown me the path I could be on.”

When asked about her favorite experience from the day, Alysea’s shared she enjoyed building and flying a ring paper plane. The activity conducted by engineers from American’s Technical Operations team, taught students basic engineering and problem-solving techniques.

“Activities like the ring paper plane challenge make it fun and enticing for students to learn STEM concepts,” Marie Eve said. “We hope that after our career day, students feel inspired to do more with science, technology, engineering and math and to know that people are rooting for them to pursue their dreams.”

Students building ring paper plane.

Beyond the Museum’s Aviation Career Day, any student across the country can visit crsmithmuseum.org to access information about education programs, aviation career resources, free professional organization memberships and volunteer opportunities.

Press contact: media@crsmithmuseum.org.

Many thanks to Aviation Career Day event sponsors Thales Avionics and American Airline Credit Union.

Thales Avionics team at booth
American Airlines Credit Union team at booth