July 29, 2011
Several hundred teachers from around the country -- many of them pilots -- gathered at the EAA Museum on Tuesday for Build A Plane's annual Teachers Day event. Jeff Skiles, the first officer on "Miracle on the Hudson" Flight 1549, was among the speakers, who also included guests from EAA, AOPA, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and more. Build A Plane founder Lyn Freeman told AVweb his group has been running the event for three years, and participation from across the country is growing. "This year we had teachers from New York, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, all over," he said. The teachers also spend some time in hands-on activities with kids, and after lunch they are free to explore AirVenture.
The project aims to help teachers use aviation to advance their students' skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Another benefit that Build A Plane offers to teachers is access to advanced 3-D CAD software donated by PTC, a software company that services companies such as Boeing and Airbus. "Any teacher who signs up for a Build A Plane project immediately gets access to this software, which enables those students to compete in the Real World Design Challenge," Freeman said. Students from around the country compete in the Challenge each year to solve an engineering problem, such as designing a more efficient wing for aircraft to save on fuel. The software is especially valued by schools that have signed up to Build A Plane, but are still on the waiting list for donations. "We are always looking for more airplanes," Freeman said. "We started a raffle here at AirVenture for a free trip to the Bahamas, for folks who donate at the show." By Friday afternoon two aircraft had been donated, a Cessna 337 Skymaster and a helicopter, Freeman said. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Jeff Skiles at the Teachers Day event; click here for that podcast.