Students were a soaring success at Van Nuys Airport's annual Aviation Careers Education (ACE) Academy, a free week-long summer program that introduces interested students to the spectrum of career opportunities within the aviation and aerospace industries. Familiar locations and new program hosts alike provided exciting and informative visions of the possible career futures available to our academy participants.
Between both middle school and high school ACE Academies, nearly 50 students spent a week of their summer vacations behind-the-scenes at various aviation and aerospace employers, learning what it takes to make it in these competitive industries and what to expect once they take off. This year, program travels ventured from Long Beach to Ventura County and visited nearly 20 different locations that included VNY, Los Angeles International Airport, CAPS Aviation, Air Hollywood, Camarillo Airport, Long Beach Airport, Gulfstream, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and the L.A. Air Force Base/Space and Missile Center, among many others.
Program activities also incorporated team-building exercises, like industry trivia and historical event simulations at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and networking opportunities with industry professionals such as pilots, aircraft mechanics and aerospace engineers. “Students have a unique opportunity to begin forging valuable networking relationships with these industry professionals in their respective environments,” said Brandon Nunn-Zia, coordinator for the VNY ACE Academy. “We see, feel and experience things in this program that offer an exceptional perspective. I'm often approached by parents wishing that we had an adult version of ACE!”
Both ACE Academy programs culminated in a ceremony officiated by Diana Sanchez, Public & Community Relations Director at VNY, with representatives from Congressman Tony Cardenas' office, L.A. City Council District 6, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the San Fernando Valley 99s present. “Until today, I never knew there were so many opportunities in this industry,” said Michael Castillo, a high school student who feels that after experiencing ACE, he believes he will “stick with aviation.”
VNY's ACE Academy provides young people once-in-a-lifetime learning experiences and encourages them to pursue their goals with enthusiasm and dedication. To learn more about the ACE Academy and other VNY outreach programs, visit www.lawa.org/WelcomeVNY.aspx.