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AOPA’s 2020 High School STEM Symposium to be held virtually in November

Educators socialize during the 2019 AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium in Denver. The 2020 event will be held virtually beginning November 17. Photo by David Tulis.

Presented by the U.S. Air Force, this year’s symposium will begin on November 17 and will be hosted by social media sensation and Envoy Air First Officer Swayne Martin—a familiar face among youth in the aviation industry. With 174,000 subscribers and 18.5 million views on his YouTube channel, Martin has become one of the most visible faces in aviation advocacy and is often seen as a role model for aspiring professional pilots learning about the career path.

Along with Martin, the symposium will feature panelists from across the industry, including AOPA President Mark Baker, United Airlines Managing Director of Flight Training Capt. Marc Champion, Women in Aviation International CEO Allison McKay, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Board of Directors Chair Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison, and U.S. Air Force Major General William A. Spangenthal. Experts and leaders in the field will discuss topics such as the future of the aviation industry, diversity in STEM careers, and up-and-coming jobs of tomorrow.

“The AOPA STEM symposium serves as the only high school event in the nation that specifically targets aviation content. Introducing students to aviation and aerospace at a young age is setting them on a path to success and opening their eyes to well-paying careers in the field,” said AOPA You Can Fly Executive Director Elizabeth Tennyson.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had short-term implications on job projections, experts still agree that long-term growth in the aviation industry is expected. The pandemic has created an increase in demand for many segments of the aviation industry. The symposium presents a great opportunity for educators and administrators to find ways to help students prepare for rewarding careers in all aspects of the aviation industry—a priority for AOPA.

Since the inception of its You Can Fly program, AOPA has worked to make flying more accessible and affordable through various initiatives, including its high school aviation STEM curriculum. Today, more than 8,000 students in 219 schools are using the program. The initiative has also had a positive impact on diversity, as AOPA’s program reflects a much more diverse community with 22 percent of participants being female and 38 percent being people of color.

With the help of generous donors, AOPA has also awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarship funding to 345 aspiring pilots over the years.

This year’s symposium will also feature key content from AOPA, including the introduction of the new twelfth-grade AOPA high school aviation STEM curriculum, impressions from curriculum teachers and students, flight training scholarship opportunities, and a special message from AOPA You Can Fly Champions Dierks Bentley and Michael Goulian.

Participants can play an active role through interactive chat, and the event will be available at no cost. For more information on how to register, visit the symposium webpage. The 2021 symposium is planned to be held in person in Orlando, Florida.

Applications for high schools to use the AOPA Aviation STEM Curriculum also open on the day of the symposium, November 17. The application process, easy and completed entirely online, can be found on the high school curriculum webpage.

The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit

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