About the High School InitiativeAbout

AOPA’s High School initiative was designed to rebuild the pilot population and the aviation industry from the ground up. By providing high-quality STEM-based aviation education to high school students nationwide, AOPA is opening the door to aviation careers for thousands of teens. The courses are designed to capture the imagination and give students from diverse backgrounds the tools to pursue advanced education and careers in aviation fields. 
Working with professional instructional designers, AOPA is offering a four-year high school aviation STEM program that falls along two tracks—pilot and unmanned aircraft systems or drones. The program conforms to math and science standards and, in keeping with career and technical education best practices, will lead to a certification or industry-accepted test, such as the FAA Private Pilot knowledge test or a Part 107 drone pilot certification.

Program Leadership

Cindy Hasselbring

Cindy Hasselbring

Sr. Director for AOPA’s High School Aviation Initiative

This initiative is being led by the Sr. Director for AOPA’s Aviation High School Initiative, Cindy Hasselbring.

Cindy came to AOPA with a deep background in education and STEM. She was a high school mathematics teacher by trade in Michigan. She found her way to DC when she became an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow with the National Science Foundation where, among many other tasks, was the teacher representative on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy STEM education committee. As part of that committee, she contributed to the writing and editing of the five-year federal STEM education strategic plan (13 federal agencies and White House collaboration) and Investment Design Principles.

Cindy also worked at the Maryland State Department of Education, Office of the State Superintendent of Schools, where she was the Special Assistant to the State Superintendent. In this role, she led STEM education in Maryland and created a five-year STEM education strategic plan for public schools in the state.

Cindy is a pilot and AOPA member – she is currently working on her instrument rating.

High School Steering Committee

AOPA has also formed an influential steering committee whose members are helping to guide program development. Representing a broad spectrum of aviation and aerospace STEM education and careers, members of this committee include:

Carolina L. Anderson, Ph.D., Aviation Associate Professor of Aeronautical Science, College of Aviation, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL

Jim Brough, National STEM-AVSED Program Manager, Federal Aviation Administration

Pat Cwayna, Chairman of the Steering Committee, Chief Executive Officer, West Michigan Aviation Academy, Grand Rapids, MI

Stephen DeWitt Deputy Executive Director, Association for Career and Technical Education

Reba Gilman, Vice President, Education, Museum of Flight, (Founder, Raisbeck Aviation High School) Seattle,WA

Mark HarrellEngineering Consultant, Director, KYTSA, Kentucky Department of Education

Paula Kedy, Executive Director, Academics and Instruction, Ada City Schools, Ada, OK

Nancy McGee, K-12 STEM Director, Grand Prairie Independent School District, Grand Prairie, TX 

Allison McKay, Vice President, Helicopter Foundation International, Helicopter Association International

Bob Raskey, Captain, United Airlines

Dave Robertson, AOPA Foundation Board of Advisors

Lee Siudzinski, Ed.D., Executive Director, Blue Sky Educational Foundation

Nicole Stott, Retired NASA Astronaut

Robb Williams, Executive Director, Triple Tree Aerodrome, Woodruff, South Carolina