Aerospace Camp Gives Conn. Students Hands-On Career Training

Students are continuing their education outside the classroom this summer. It's a new aerospace camp that puts kids in the pilot seat.

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Some high schoolers from Meriden and Middletown have a busy summer ahead as they learn about engineering and science behind flying. 

"I appreciate these types of programs because it opens up opportunities to kids like us whose schools don't really offer these programs," said Naima Islam, an incoming junior at Platt High School.

Islam and her peers are working together to assemble a real aircraft engine. 

"You wouldn't really think about how complex an engine is, and this is just a baby model that we've made," Islam said.

But the training doesn't stop there. Next week, these students plan to get their commercial drone license, then spend a couple days at the Hartford Brainard Airport from inside the tower and jet center. They'll also tour the New England Museum.

Pilot and aircraft mechanic Paul Pelletier founded the Aerospace Engine Overhaul Workshop. He came up with the concept four years ago as a way to respond to the industry's needs. Now in its second year, the workshop reached full capacity.

Thanks to a partnership with Meriden Markham Airport, Thursday's workshop was free.

"These programs are meant to encourage students to consider all the opportunities in aerospace in Connecticut as well," Pelletier said.

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He said there are nearly 30,000 aerospace manufacturing jobs in the state. Globally, the need for staff in the industry is growing.

According to Boeing's pilot and technician outlook, the demand for aviation personnel remains strong. Over the next twenty years, 612,000 new pilots, 626,000 maintenance technicians and 886,000 cabin crew members will be needed worldwide.

These training efforts are starting right at home. One student comes from a long line of engineers. Another is grateful to take advantage of the opportunity.

"My family is mostly engineers, and my sister is also an aeronautical engineer. She has a lot of experience because she went to an engineering school," said ninth grader Ataharv Kulkarni of Middletown.

"I wouldn't have ever really known about aerospace. I think this is something I would base my career on because it's so interesting. But in my school, I wouldn't have really gotten that introduction," Islam said.

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