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AIA’s focus on the need to end sequestration, further invest in the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System (NextGen) and highlight civilian uses of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) framed this year’s National Aerospace Week. To help increase public engagement around and during National Aerospace Week, AIA hosted a public, interactive social media contest called the Aerospace Knowledge Quiz. Hundreds of individuals participated in the contest which tested their knowledge of aerospace and defense industry achievements.
Steven Shur, the 21 year-old contest winner, is a senior studying engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. Upon learning of his victory, he told AIA that, “The [Aerospace Knowledge Quiz] got me interested in further researching the aerospace industry’s rich history and got me more interested in defense and space programs.”
[photos courtesy of Steven Shur]
“I have been applying to a lot of defense and aerospace companies,” Shur told AIA when asked about where he wants to work after graduation. His top choice would be an aerospace company that develops and manufactures satellite and space propulsion systems. “I have been looking at NASA, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing [as potential employers]… to hopefully work on a big satellite project and see it lifted into space,” he said.
Shur, who is pursuing a minor in aerospace engineering, first became interested in STEM education at an early age. “Growing up I was always interested in science and astronomy because of my father who currently works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,” he said. “Coupled with a natural interest in math and science I’ve always wanted to know how things work.”
Indeed, nearly three-quarters of students in STEM report that their parents had an influence on their study choices. Unfortunately, recent government shutdowns caused by an unnecessary gap in federal funding impacted thousands of federal employees, many of whom are STEM career role models including Shur’s father. When strong candidates like Shur see their STEM role models being impacted by budget crises, the shutdown and long-term budget cuts from sequestration these circumstances have negative impacts on job seeker confidence which may reduce an individual's desire to pursue a career in aerospace and defense.
New job seekers want stable careers. With programs and facilities going unfunded or underfunded potential aerospace and defense employees may turn to other disciplines that also recruit highly skilled candidates with STEM backgrounds. To continue to cultivate talent in our industry’s workforce, it is important to not only maintain the interests of today’s young people in the jobs our industry has to offer but also attract more females and underrepresented minority youth into STEM fields.
To help develop a stronger workforce AIA member companies collectively invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in STEM education. These programs help students cultivate the skills necessary to ensure the aerospace and defense industry’s future workforce retains candidates with highly sought after STEM skills our members require. AIA also works hard to nurture students interested in STEM education through the Team America Rocketry Challenge and with partnerships like the Business and Industry STEM Education Coalition.
Offering prospective STEM students a piece of advice, Shur said, “take as many math and science courses as you can.”
As for Shur’s immediate future, he has been offered an internship at AIA upon graduation. AIA’s annual internship program provides undergraduate and graduate students interested in aerospace and defense policy an opportunity to learn about the many issues all of our divisions work on a daily basis. If you know of students interested in such an internship, please have them contact Brian Crowley, AIA’s Director of HR and Administration (email@example.com).
AIA source: adam.kostecki[at]aia-aerospace.org