CR Smith Museum and American Airlines help Dallas students explore possibilities through Aviation Career Pathways  

Led by the CR Smith Museum in partnership with American Airlines, the multi-year program provides students with a tailored curriculum, behind-the-scenes access to American’s operations and connections to professionals.  

FORT WORTH, TEXAS — The CR Smith Museum teamed up with American Airlines to kick start its new Aviation Career Pathways Program, a multi-year program for middle and high school students that provides access to aviation STEM education and exposure to industry career opportunities. Currently, the program engages students in seventh to 12th grade attending multiple schools in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). It has room to grow to other schools in Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond long-term. 

Building confidence in science, technology, engineering and math concepts and a sense of belonging in the aviation industry   

Students at Skyline High School in Dallas connected with American’s maintenance team to learn about pathways to become an Aviation Maintenance Technician in September.

“Aviation Career Pathways bridges the classroom to the industry,” said Marie Eve Poirier-Harris, Education Director at CR Smith Museum. “Plus, it is customizable to support schools’ or districts’ focus specific to career exploration.” 

The program has two elements at its core that shine in engagements in the classroom, at the Museum and in American’s operation:  

No.1: Provide students with hands-on experiences that help them build confidence in the subject and career.  

No. 2: Help students see themselves in the aviation industry by connecting them with professionals with similar childhood experiences so they feel a sense of belonging. 

Up to seven touch points annually, including access to Aviation Career Day 

Depending on their grade level, students will have four to seven touch points each year in the classroom, at American’s facilities and at the CR Smith Museum. Those touchpoints range from guest speakers to in-classroom problem-solving activities, the CR Smith Museum’s annual Aviation Career Day, tours at American’s DFW hangars and more.  

More than 200 students from DISD participating in the Aviation Career Pathways program attended this year’s Aviation Career Day. At this year’s event, students heard from expert panels ranging from aircraft maintenance technicians, pilots, cybersecurity specialists and more. Participants also engaged in hands-on workshops, including an engineering challenge, flight simulator time, CPR demos and role-playing in the Museum’s Airline Command Center. Finally, a career fair allowed students to connect one-on-one with industry professionals, including team members from American.  

Life-changing access to role models and resources for students from underserved communities   

The majority of schools participating in the program are Title 1 — schools located in low-income Texas communities that have historically been underserved. Exposure and connection are the start of supporting real needs in these communities, but schools also face challenges around transportation to programs, and many students’ first concern is financing their futures.  

American’s maintenance team shared practical ways to overcome financial barriers to becoming an Aviation Maintenance Technician.

Aviation Career Pathways solves these two real hurdles by bringing multiple touchpoints to students at one of the four career centers across DISD and sharing practical examples through American’s team members’ real-life stories.  

Karon Washington, an American Airlines engineer, supports the development of the program’s curriculum and also leads volunteer outreach that keeps the program running.  

“I had a tough upbringing and didn’t have anyone in my family or friend group who had a career in aviation or engineering,” said Karon. “How I landed on engineering was a Google search and I want to change that narrative for other kids. I’m involved in the program because I want to make sure I go to the communities where kids may not have access to people, and I can be that person for them. You can always influence and support those who come next.”  

Karon and several team member volunteers at American are involved in the program development and execution.  

“We couldn’t do this program without the help of leaders and team members at American,” said Marie Eve. “We’re incredibly grateful to them, our donors and American for providing us with the resources to help these students have a bright future.”  


While the Aviation Career Pathways program is only available in Dallas-Fort Worth, access aviation career resources no matter where you live on our Career Pathways page at crsmithmuseum.org.  


About the American Airlines CR Smith Museum: The Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that inspires future aviation professionals of all backgrounds through its confidence-building education programs, exhibitions and heritage collection. EIN 75-2335230.