SC to start aerospace engineering curriculum in high schools

COLUMBIA, S.C. —Some South Carolina high school students will be able to take aerospace engineering classes starting this fall. The state is launching a pilot program in five high schools this fall and a sixth in the 2018-19 school year.

The program is aimed at providing the state’s growing aerospace industry with the highly-skilled workers it needs. Adrianne Beasley, director of Aerospace Initiatives at the SC Council on Competitiveness, says, “A company like Boeing, being the big, heavy hitter–but there’s more than 400 aerospace companies in the state–they’re all looking for an advanced manufacturing level of workforce, so it’s a highly skilled workforce and it’s a very different manufacturing environment than what, say, textile manufacturing was.”

The curriculum will train students who want to go into aerospace manufacturing right after high school but is also aimed at those interested in majoring in engineering in college. The curriculum has four courses: fundamentals of aerospace technology, advanced aerospace technology, aeronautics engineering applications, and astronautics engineering applications.

South Carolina education superintendent Molly Spearman says, “I think any student could participate, but it’s students who really are interested in engineering, students who like science, mathematics and who like solving problems.”

The schools that will offer the curriculum are:

–Battery Creek High in Beaufort

–Edisto High in Cordova

–Emerald High in Greenwood

–RB Stall High in Charleston

–Sumter Career and Technology Center in Sumter.

It will be offered at the Pickens County Career and Technology Center in Liberty in the 2018-19 school year.

Beasley and Spearman say the plan is for the curriculum to expand statewide after this pilot program.

South Carolina’s aerospace industry employs about 100,000 people and has an economic impact on the state of $19 billion. The average total compensation of an aerospace employee in the state is $70,000.