Science-minded students in Polk County have a new opportunity to reach for the stars: the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA). Polk State College serves as a partner with CFAA, along with a host of community and educational organizations. CFAA is designed to inspire students to study aviation and aviation-related fields in college.
The program is one of several career academies developed by Polk County School Board’s Workforce Education Department. It has been assisted in its efforts through a $1.4 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and involves Polk County Public Schools, Traviss Career Center, the University of South Florida Polytechnic, Sun ‘n Fun, Gulf Coast Avionics, and Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport, among others. Located at Lakeland’s Sun ‘n Fun complex, the academy encourages interest in mathematics and science by placing these subjects in the context of the exciting aviation field.
“CFAA students are learning pre-engineering and preparing for engineering careers,” said Patricia Jones, PSC District Dean of Academic & Student Services. “It offers multiple tracks, so students have a lot of options based on what they want to do after they graduate.”
Ken Ross, PSC Vice President for Academic & Student Services, noted that the program has benefits for both students and Polk State College. “Enhancing the relationship between the school board and PSC is extremely important,” he said. “And tying something that students enjoy to core proficiencies is critical; it turns kids on to education in general, because now they want to succeed.”
The program allows high school students to earn college credit through Polk State College while they improve their technical knowledge and prepare for rewarding careers. The curriculum combines academic training with hands-on experience provided by local avionics and aerospace companies, including NASA. Students leaving the program will be prepared to achieve Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification in various technical areas and can transfer their credits to associates and bachelors programs at colleges and universities.
For more information about the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, contact CFAA Assistant Principal Chad Smith at 863-647-4761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.