Paul Kaup knows how to equip the future workforce in aviation. It takes a bit of effort, some good friends who see the vision, and the ability of a community to come together and make great things happen. Keep reading to learn more, but here’s a quick spoiler … you can learn how to do the same thing in your community as well, and it’s much more fun than you can imagine!
You see, it’s no secret that the aviation industry has been desperate for engineers, aviators, technicians, air traffic controllers, safety inspectors, aviation mechanics, etc., for years. The list goes on and has left many within the industry scratching their heads and asking each other, “What should we do?” Paul Kaup, a captain with Southwest Airlines, was asked a similar question and came up with a great response: “Let’s get to work.”
Paul founded a nonprofit named STEM+C (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, plus Creativity). It’s an honest-to-goodness 501(c)(3), and it’s doing some great things. As a matter of fact, it’s an authorized AMA STE(A)M Partner, and we in the AMA Education department have been big fans of the work coming out of this organization for years.
Paul began by inviting youth to his workshop to design and build model aircraft, model rockets, and associated engineering challenges. He uses a variety of tools, techniques, competitions, and talents to teach the students to fly these model aircraft. Paul has even expanded the available resources by purchasing and making available to the community a STEM+C-dedicated Cessna 150 for full-scale flight instruction. This enables youth in the STEM+C program to self-direct their learning path to go in any direction they desire, producing self-motivated, competent individuals who are ready to take on the challenges life presents in stride.
Paul worked with more and more students, teaching them aviation principles through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) process. Ultimately, the goal has been to teach these youth to ask questions, observe data, conduct themselves with humble confidence, and solve problems. It’s the perfect mix of what the aviation industry needs in its up-and-coming workforce.
Eventually, Paul posed a challenge to the students: to capture the Guinness World Record for highest-altitude, remote-controlled (RC) model aircraft flight. You can read more about how the story unfolded by visiting this blog from 2020.
How does Paul (and how can you) find students who are interested in pursuing aviation as a career? He goes out into the community where they already are and invites them along for the ride, while ensuring that the ride is fun, rewarding, and challenging. Taking Flight 2022 is a perfect example of this. Paul coordinated with his local EAA chapter, engineers, flight schools, colleges, hobby shops, and local AMA members who share a love for aviation to convene for an event that was held at a local park on a beautiful day in April. It didn’t happen by chance. Paul leaned on each and every contact that he had to develop a plan, raise money for the use of the facility, secure volunteers, and ensure the event’s success.
STEM+C sanctioned the event through the AMA, coordinated with the AMA Government Affairs team to ensure that they had the airspace authorization they required, and requested and obtained assistance from AMA District X Vice President Greg Stone for volunteers. Greg coordinated with District X Associate Vice President (AVP) Bob Hunter, who tirelessly assisted with FPV buddy-boxing multirotor flights during the event. Buddy boxing also took place on RC simulators, ground vehicles, and fixed-wing model aircraft. There were even robots duking it out during the event! The number of opportunities wasn’t wasted on the attendees who took full advantage of all that the event offered. I was able to attend on behalf of the AMA as the Education Director, primarily assisting with buddy boxing, something I truly enjoy doing.
A well-staffed and well-planned kids area was located close to the on-site playground, and students enjoyed a number of crafts and activities. Two high-altitude balloon launches took place during the event as well, launching safely and efficiently between event sponsor tents. A public-address system was set up and announcements to the flightline were efficient and effective. Combat demonstrations from the STEM+C crew, along with 3D flying by JR-sponsored pilot Cayden Bruce were crowd-pleasers. At the top of each hour, helicopter demonstrations were also conducted for the enjoyment of visitors and staff alike.
Attendees were able to purchase low-cost kits and also received free AMA materials, including AMA-branded Guillow’s gliders, AMA ALPHAs, AMA BETAs, and reading materials such as Park Pilot and Model Aviation magazines.
An evening flying-wing FPV formation capped off the event, beautifully closing out a day of sharing the hobby we all love with a community filled with future fliers. It was my pleasure to work alongside so many passionate aviation ambassadors. My sincere thanks to the volunteers, partners, sponsors, and attendees. I look forward to visiting again soon!
See you at the flying field!
—Kyle Jaracz, AMA Education Director
The Academy of Model Aeronautics; Superstition Hobbies; Hobby Action; EAA Chapter 228; Vertical Flight Society Arizona Chapter; ACESA; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; ASU Aviation; Space Data; Rocketry Works; Rippin’ AZ; AIAA; REKT Drones; Tie-Dye Samurai; East Valley Institute of Technology; and SciTech Institute.
MHS (Shawn Quinn); FTCA (the Hansen Family SWA Flights); Pilot Institute (Jacob Minker); Traxxas; DesertRotor; Coldwell Banker Realty (Nicholas Caulfield); Jetstream Health Coaching; and Kiwanis International.