Facebook icon YouTube icon Pinterest icon RSS icon Flickr icon

Education Partnerships: Aerospace and Technology

Aerospace education is a top priority for Arizona leaders. Strategic planning groups such as the Arizona Science Foundation, as well as players in the aerospace industry, work with primary and secondary schools to build a foundation for avionics, a component of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum vital to success in the modern world.  Strong early education means Arizona students strengthen key aspects of STEM knowledge, helping produce college graduates with the skills necessary to join the aerospace companies headquartered here and keep pushing these cutting edge industries forward!

Primary Education

Mesa Flight Center

A joint venture between Boeing and Mesa Public Schools gives fifth grade students an exciting opportunity to extend and apply their knowledge of scientific principles through the subject of aviation. Mesa Public Schools opened their first Flight Center in 1998 and the second Flight Center in 2000. Each year more than 140 classes, approximately 3,500 fifth graders, visit Mesa's Flight Centers. This motivational experience uses the theme of aviation to capture the imagination of students and engage them in a variety of learning activities. The Flight Center is designed to accommodate one class per day. The Flight Center curriculum is aligned to national and Arizona State Standards in all content areas.

When students arrive at the Flight Center, they are first given a pre-flight briefing and go through ground school. For the rest of their visit, the students experience hands on activities that reinforce their learning in the classroom. Science experiments demonstrate principles such as lift, friction and air flow. Students fly a directed course on computer simulators utilizing their knowledge of basic flight instruments, the control stick, and rudder pedals. They take an imaginary flight in a full motion (3 axis) airplane simulator and experience a MD500 helicopter cockpit simulator.

Arizona FIRS​T LEGO® League

Students expand their creativity and their engineering skills at the Arizona FIRST LEGO® League competition.

The FIRST organization (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was established by renowned inventor Dean Kamen to spark youngsters’ interest in engineering and science. Arizona FIRST LEGO® League helps teach young students throughout the state each year more about engineering, science, technology and math. Project partners include aircraft manufacturer Boeing and microchip giant Intel.

As part of robotics and research competitions, students build, design and program robots—using LEGO® MINDSTORM kits—and put them to the test in regional qualifying tournaments. The top-performing teams move on to the state championship tournament each December at Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus. ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering began coordinating the Arizona FIRST LEGO® League in 2008. Since then the number of teams participating has more than tripled, from 88 to 266—and now involves thousands of Arizona students from ages nine through 14. The championship tournament draws several hundred students—along with parents, teachers and friends—for a boisterous day of robot games, research project presentation and demonstrations of teamwork skills. Several Arizona FIRST LEGO® League teams have had opportunities to participate in the FIRST World Festival. 


Aerospace and De​fense Research Collaboratory at Arizona State University

The Aerospace and De​fense Research Collaboratory (ARDC) is a new initiative through Arizona State University (ASU) designed to build broad connections between industry and higher education that will advance and strengthen aerospace and military technologies. The collaboratory was established with a $1 million grant from Science Foundation Arizona’s (SFAz) Aerospace and Defense Initiative (ADI) and a matching amount raised by research partners and industry.

ADRC, in coordination with SFAz’s ADI, has been working to create a competitive advantage for the aerospace and defense sector in Arizona. ADI serves as a central and streamlined partnership to advance A&D in the state and make Arizona a top location for A&D companies. By providing opportunities for university researchers and industry to work together, the ADRC has helped develop cutting-edge technologies and innovations to better meet the demands of the A&D sector. Nine ADRC projects have been co-sponsored by Science Foundation Arizona and industry partners.

The Del E. Webb Foundation High Altitude Chamber at ASU

Subjects test their cognitive skills in the Well E. Webb foundation High Altitude Chamber.

Hypoxia is one of the most deadly and silent killers that aircrew members, skydivers, mountain climbers or balloonists can face. Hypoxia is a state of oxygen deficiency in the blood cells and tissue. If untreated it can cause mental and physical impairment, unconsciousness, or even death.

The Del E. Webb Foundation High Altitude Chamber at ASU’s College of Technology (CTI) and Innovation is used during aerospace or high terrestrial altitude research or training to simulate the effects of high altitude on the human body, specifically hypoxia (low oxygen) and hypobaria (low ambient air pressure). The high altitude chamber at CTI has two chambers and offers classes, training, human subject research and product development/testing.

The main altitude chamber can exceed 65,000 feet in altitude and has a 20-person capacity. The small chamber has a three-person capacity and can exceed 80,000 feet in altitude. Both chambers are capable of simulating insidious or rapid loss of cabin pressurization.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAR Part 141) has approved the Aviation Physiology and human Factors courses conducted by ASU. Altitude chamber training is also available to general aviation, commercial, corporate and government aircrew members.

Mesa Flight Center


Educating Military Communities


Providing technology, consulting, and engineering services to the public and private sectors, Thompson-Wimmer is a top-tier partner for the U.S. Army, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Fortune 500 companies such as L-3 Communications, CACI, and CGI Federal. Thompson-Wimmer is a woman-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) that brings a quality focused team of experience and performance minded experts necessary to fulfill customers’ mission needs in a variety of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) programs. Services include supporting software and hardware lifecycle management initiatives, requirements management, system development, engineering support, field support, technical documentation, testing and evaluation, program and administrative functions.

One recent project is to design the learning systems for Fort Huachuca’s Colonel Smith Middle School. Wind turbines, interactive white boards, and a video production lab complete with green screen are just a few features that bring cutting edge technology—and an opportunity for first-class STEM education, to students of Arizona’s military families.

 The New Colonel Smith Middle School: Arizona's First Net-Zero Student Centered Learning Environment