2021 AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Symposium Presented by Boeing

November 14-16, 2021
Hyatt Regency Orlando Int'l Airport




The 2021 AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Symposium brings dedicated educators from around the nation for two full days of sharing insights, ideas, and best practices for starting and building aviation STEM programs.

The AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Symposium is the ONLY high school event in the nation that specifically targets aviation and aerospace content.

Pilots, drone operators, aerospace engineers, scientists, technologists, and technicians will always be in demand. Despite the impact of the pandemic, forecasts continue to project shortfalls over the next twenty years as a result of an aging workforce. The AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Symposium is a great opportunity for educators and administrators to discover how they can prepare students for success in these exciting and well-paying careers.

Watch the pre-recorded broadcast of the 2020 Symposium here.

Why Attend?

Come learn from the experts in aviation education. Join us for two full days of breakout sessions, industry tours, and networking opportunities you will not want to miss.

The AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Symposium is your chance to get to know the leaders in the field. Our speakers come with a wealth of experience in education, aviation, aerospace, and more. They will share lessons learned and provide fresh ideas to take back to your classrooms. Breakout sessions are designed to help you get the most out of your experience, whether you’re interested in starting an aviation program, adding aviation content to STEM classes, or enhancing an existing aviation initiative at you school.

The excitement about aviation education from participants at this symposium creates an energized atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else!


Start or grow your aviation STEM program with tips, tools, resources, and guidance from aviation and education experts. Topics include:

Getting the Most from AOPA’s High School Aviation STEM Curriculum

  • Learn how you can deliver meaningful, rigorous aviation STEM education to your students with AOPA’s FREE curriculum. And get a preview of the Grade 12 courses covering advanced aviation topics and providing CTE pathways.

An Insider’s View

  • Join AOPA President Mark Baker and United Airlines Managing Director – Flight Training Capt. Marc Champion as they speak frankly about the present and future state of the industry.

You Can Fly… for Free!

  • Each year AOPA awards more than $1 million in flight training scholarships to teachers and students. Find out how you and your students can apply.

Show Me the Jobs

  • Listen in as a panel of experts representing a wide range of aviation fields talk about the careers that are booming right now and the up-and-coming jobs of tomorrow.

Career Pathways in the U.S. Air Force

  • U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. William A. Spangenthal, Deputy Commander, Air Education and Training Command (AETC), will talk about how AETC implements its mission to “Recruit, train, and educate exceptional Airmen” and the role of high school STEM programs in preparing students for careers in the United States Air Force.

Someone Who Looks Like Me

  • It’s no secret that women and minorities have long been underrepresented in STEM professions. What barriers prevent them from seeking STEM careers? How can we welcome them into aviation professions and prime them for success? Get answers to these questions and more in a lively discussion featuring Women in Aviation President Allison McKay and a diverse group of leaders who want kids from all backgrounds to know there’s a place for them in aviation.

Beyond the Classroom

  • There’s more than one way to get students in the air. Find out how you can help your students take to the skies with flying clubs, flight school partnerships, Civil Air Patrol, and more. And meet AOPA’s Ambassadors, your local resource for all things aviation.

All Together Now

  • How do you engage local aviation community members to become part of your aviation program? Hear how Highlands Aviation and Aerospace Academy partnered with AirCam Designer Phil Lockwood and retired NASA Astronaut Story Musgrave to have Highlands students help build Story’s Aircam. Get practical tips on how to build your own community of supporters and provide big wins for your students, your program, and your partners.

You Can Fly Champions Dierks Bentley and Michael Goulian

  • Hear a special message from country music star Dierks Bentley and champion air show performer Michael Goulian, AOPA’s You Can Fly Champions. Both rely on aviation for fun and business. Now they’re spreading the message that, like them, You Can Fly!

Hosted by airline pilot and social media sensation Swayne Martin


*Agenda subject to change.

Hotel Information

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport

9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard
Orlando, FL, 32827

Hotel Registration Now Open

AOPA has reserved a block of rooms at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport (9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32827) from November 13 through 17, 2021 at a special group rate. Make your reservations now to guarantee your room rate. 

Please note: The Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport is conveniently located within the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Ground transportation will not be required if you choose to stay at the symposium hotel and fly into MCO.

Hotel Registration

Transportation Arrangements

Travel to the DoubleTree Denver by Hilton from Denver Airport

The University of Colorado A Line commuter train provides easy, affordable and reliable connections between Denver International Airport, the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver, and downtown Denver.

The DoubleTree Denver by Hilton provides complimentary shuttle service for those staying in its hotel to and from the Central Park Station from 4:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. daily. You can also contact the hotel at 303-321-3333 to request the shuttle when you arrive at the platform.

Click here for more information about the RTD rail system. Other modes of transportation are also available such as taxis, ride sharing, etc.

Travel to the United Airlines Flight Training Center

The symposium will be held at the United Airlines Flight Training Center on Monday, November 11, and Tuesday, November 12. Symposium registration will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver on Sunday, November 10, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Monday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 12, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

Parking is NOT available at the United Airlines Flight Training Center for symposium attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors.

All participants are required to check in at the symposium registration area at the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver and ride the shuttle to and from the United Airlines Flight Training Center. Shuttles will run every 30 minutes between the two locations.

If you are not staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver, you must still ride the shuttle departing from the DoubleTree.

Shuttle Schedule to and from the United Airlines Flight Training Center

Monday, November 11, 2019

7:45 – 8:45 a.m.
Shuttles will be running from the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver to the United Airlines Flight Training Center starting at 7:45 a.m. and ending at 8:45 a.m.

Arrive at the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver registration area no later than 8:30 a.m. to catch a shuttle to the symposium.

If you did not check-in or register for the symposium on Sunday, November 12, plan to arrive between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning to do so.

9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Shuttles will depart from the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver every 30 minutes to go to the United Airlines Flight Training Center throughout the day.

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Shuttles will make runs to the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver starting at 4:30 p.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. Be in the departure area at the United Airlines Flight Training Center no later than 5:15 p.m. to go back to the hotel.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

7:45 – 8:45 a.m.
Shuttles will be running from the United Airlines Flight Training Center starting at 7:45 a.m. and ending at 8:45 a.m. Plan to arrive at the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver symposium registration area no later than 8:30 a.m. to catch a shuttle.

Do NOT bring luggage or large bags with you to the United Airlines Flight Training Center. Leave your large items either at your hotel or in your rental car.

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Shuttles will depart from the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver every 30 minutes to go to the United Airlines Flight Training Center.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Shuttles will make runs to the DoubleTree by Hilton Denver starting at 2:00 p.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m. Be in the departure area to go back to the hotel no later than 2:45 p.m.

Download the shuttle schedule here.

Symposium Registration

Registration Includes

  • Admission Three Days of Activities and SessionsAdmission to the entire symposium and attendance to all education sessions, exhibit area, and networking opportunities. The AFA tour is an additional cost.
  • Networking NetworkingThere are many opportunities to network with your peers from Sunday through Tuesday. Mingle with colleagues at our new Monday evening dinner reception, including cocktails and dinner stations.
  • MealsBreakfast and lunch are included on Monday and Tuesday of the symposium and a dinner reception is included on Monday evening!


    Through Sept. 13

    Register Now
  • $300

    Beginning September 14

CANCELLATION POLICY: All cancellations are required to be made in writing for any applicable refund to be processed. No refund will be provided for cancellations received after Monday, October 21, 2019.


Swayne Martin

First Officer, Envoy Air; 
Co-owner and Editor, Boldmethod Pilot Training

Swayne is a First Officer for Envoy Air on the Embraer 145 and an advocate for future pilots. With over 172,000 subscribers and 18 million views, his YouTube channel is a go-to source for aspiring professional pilots learning about the career path.

His aviation career started at 15 years old with his first flight lessons in Richmond, Virginia. Shortly after, Swayne began documenting his flight training through a series of videos on YouTube. Around the same time, he started writing for Boldmethod Pilot Training, where he's now a co-owner and editor. Swayne attended the University of North Dakota and built his first professional flight experience by flying inter-island for Hawaiian carrier Mokulele Airlines.

Today, Swayne's videos cover specific topics including simulator training, reserve schedules, and commuting, to make the transition into airline ground school much easier. Each video is targeted to answer questions that students and instructors are not traditionally exposed to during flight training. The resource he’s created is the first example of an airline-approved comprehensive view on becoming an airline pilot.


Mark Baker

President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Mark R. Baker joined AOPA in 2013 as president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest civil aviation organization. A native Minnesotan, Baker earned his pilot certificate in his twenties and has logged more than 10,000 hours of flight time in aircraft ranging from light seaplanes to turbines and helicopters. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Baker has served on numerous corporate boards and has taken leadership roles with several nonprofit organizations. Before his appointment at AOPA, Baker served in numerous senior executive roles, including CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corporation, a leading retailer of home improvement and garden products. Baker also served in senior executive roles at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Gander Mountain Company, and The Home Depot. Earlier in his career, he also worked for HomeBase, Scotty’s Home Improvement Centers, and Knox Hardware and Lumber. In conjunction with his role as president and CEO of AOPA, Baker is chairman of AOPA’s Political Action Committee; chief executive officer for the AOPA Foundation; president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, representing pilots in 81 countries; and publisher of AOPA Pilot, the world’s largest and most influential aviation publication.

Capt. Marc Champion

Managing Director-Flight Training, United Airlines
Captain Marc Champion is managing director of flight training for United. In his role, Marc is responsible for leading a team of over 500 professionals who train United Airlines pilots at a state-of-the-art Flight Training Center in Denver, Colorado. During his career at the airline, Marc has served in a variety of leadership roles in training, safety, and operations and as a volunteer for the Air Line Pilots Association. He began his flying career as a flight instructor and flew as a charter pilot, commuter airline pilot, and corporate pilot before joining United in 1985. Marc received his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Science from Metropolitan State University in Denver and has a master’s degree in Human Development and Family Science from North Dakota State University. He maintains qualification on the Boeing 787 and enjoys flying around the globe whenever time permits.

Maj. Gen. William A. Spangenthal

Deputy Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas
The Air Education and Training Command is responsible for the recruiting, training and education of Air and Space Force personnel and includes Air Force Recruiting Service, two Numbered Air Forces and Air University. AETC operates more than 1,400 trainer, fighter and mobility aircraft, 23 wings, 10 bases and five geographically-separated groups. It governs approximately 60,000 active duty, Reserve, Guard, civilian and contractor personnel who train more than 293,000 students per year. Maj. Gen. Spangenthal graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1992. He has commanded at the squadron, expeditionary group and wing levels. Additionally, his staff experience includes various doctrine, strategy and warfighting requirements positions within Air Forces Central Command as well as the office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Director, Operations and Communications, AETC. Maj. Gen. Spangenthal is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours in the T-37 Tweet, T-38 Talon, KC-135 Stratotanker, and C-17 Globemaster III.

Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison

Chair, Board of Directors; Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals
Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison currently serves as the first non-pilot chair for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Board of Directors, where she previously held positions as vice-chair and on the Board of Advisors. Vanessa has over 42 years of professional aviation experience, 28 of those in a managerial role. Currently, Vanessa serves as change advisor and leadership coach (ACC) with the Federal Aviation Administration, Aviation Safety and Flight Standards Leadership Development Team Change Management Group. Her duties include change management consultation, guidance, training, and support focusing on the personnel management of national projects. Vanessa joined the FAA in 2009, as an aviation safety inspector - AMR CMO, with oversight responsibilities for American Airlines and its subsidiary, American Eagle Airlines. Vanessa retired from United Airlines as the manager of emergency procedures training for pilots and flight attendants worldwide. Additionally, she held the position of human resources senior staff specialist, responsible for the recruitment of minority and female pilots. Vanessa’s volunteerism includes service as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) and Grad Life Choices coach. Vanessa received her M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix and B.A. from the University of Southern California, and she holds an Associate Coaching Certification (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation. Vanessa resides in Denver, Colorado with her husband of 34 years, Tony, and is the proud mother of two adult children and three “grand-dogs.”

Allison McKay

Chief Executive Officer, Women in Aviation International
Allison McKay joined Women in Aviation International as CEO on February 18, 2020. She is responsible for the future strategic vision of the more than 15,000-member strong organization while overseeing the board of directors, professional staff, and daily operations. Allison previously served as vice president of the Helicopter Association International Foundation since 2015 commissioning the first academic study of staffing projections for the rotorcraft industry as well as creating a workforce development initiative. Allison will draw from more than 20 years of experience in the development and implementation of highly strategic initiatives with other aviation companies including Safran USA and B/E Aerospace.

Captain Houston Mills

UPS Vice President Flight Operations & Safety
As Vice President of Flight Operations & Safety, Captain Mills has global oversight of and responsibility for UPS Airline Flight Operations, Training, Regulatory Compliance and Airline Safety. Prior to his current position Houston served as Global Aviation Strategy & Public Policy Director, UPS’s Director of Airline Safety and Compliance, the UPS International Chief Pilot, and the Director of Flight Training. Houston currently serves as one of 35 executives on the newly formed FAA Drone Advisory Committee. He also serves as the Chairman of the Cargo Airline Association Board of Directors. Houston began his aviation career in 1985 as a Marine Corps officer and F/A-18 fighter pilot. He served in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Restore Hope and Southern Watch and has more than 100 aircraft carrier landings to his credit.

Major Afton J. Brown

Assistant Director of Operations at Air Force Recruiting Service Detachment 1, Randolph Air Force Base, TX
As an Assistant Director of Operations, Major Afton J. Brown executes the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Rated Diversity Improvement initiatives and implements innovative programs supporting Total Force Recruiting. She is also an instructor pilot at the 99th Flying Training Squadron and is responsible for conducting training at the Pilot Instructor Training schoolhouse in the T-1A. Major Brown commissioned from ROTC in December 2009 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She entered active duty in 2010 and earned her Aeronautical Rating as a Pilot in 2011. She also earned her Master of Science Degree in 2016. Prior to assuming her current position, Major Brown was an Instructor Pilot in the 48th Flying Training Squadron, Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. She was responsible for conducting the advanced phase of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training in the T-1A. She was also an Instructor Aircraft Commander of the C-17A Globemaster III Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Major Brown has more than 2,600 flying hours, 1,000 instructor hours, and 405 Combat hours. She has served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation United Assistance.

Greg Bowles

Head of Government Affairs, Joby Aviation
Greg engages with the aviation community and policy makers to advance the introduction of a new generation of local air transportation that is so safe, quiet, and cost effective that it will become a part of our daily lives. For almost two decades, Greg has been working to foster the worldwide safety and success of the aviation community. During this time, he championed efforts to reform thousands of regulations and paved the way for new enabling aviation technologies. Previously Greg served as the V.P. of Global Innovation & Policy for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Prior to that he held positions with leading rotorcraft and airplane manufacturers in advanced design and regulatory roles. Greg is a member of the ASTM Board of Directors and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Greg holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and a MBA. Greg is an active pilot based in Washington, DC. Joby Aviation is an aerospace company that is developing and commercializing piloted all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to enable the safe deployment of fast, quiet, and affordable air taxi services.

Chris Liebmann

Air Vehicle Integration Flight Test Engineer, Air Force Test Center
Mr. Liebmann was born and raised in Green Bay, WI. He graduated from Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, AZ campus in 2006 with B.S. degrees in both Aeronautical Science and Aerospace Engineering. He worked a flight instructor at ERAU, Prescott from 2006-2009 in all courses, including the Extreme Attitude Recovery Training course. Since 2009, he has worked as a civil servant flight test engineer for the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base specializing in flight dynamics test on various developmental test platforms. In 2016, he graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School as an Experimental Flight Test Engineer. Mr. Liebmann holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and is a certified flight instructor in gliders and single-engine and multi-engine airplanes. He has logged 2300+ hours of flight time in 30+ types of civilian and military aircraft.

Story Musgrave

Retired NASA Astronaut and Aviation Education Enthusiast
Story Musgrave was born in 1935 on a dairy farm in Stockbridge, MA. He soloed an aircraft at 13 and over the next 71 years flew 18,000 hours including 7000 hours in supersonic aircraft and the earning of U.S. Air Force and NASA Wings. He never finished school, ran off with the U. S. Marines at 17 where he was an aircraft engine mechanic, crew chief and plane captain at Marine Airbase K-6, Korea and on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. During college he drove and repaired M47 and M48 tanks with the Marine Corps Active Reserve. He is a parachutist with over 800 jumps including 100 experimental freefalls involving the first study of the aerodynamics of the free flying human body. He has 6 graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, biological physics, and literature and has been awarded 22 honorary doctorates. He was a part-time trauma surgeon at the University of Colorado Medical Center for the duration of his astronaut career. He was a NASA Astronaut for over 30 years and flew on six spaceflights. He performed the first shuttle spacewalk on Challenger’s first flight, was a pilot on an astronomy mission, conducted two classified DOD missions, was the lead spacewalker on the first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission and operated an electronic chip manufacturing satellite on Columbia. He was the lead communicator in the NASA Mission Control Center for 25 other missions. Today Story is a producer/director of multimedia, a landscape architect, a heavy equipment operator, an artist/designer/engineer with Applied Minds LLC, a Professor of Design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. and he is a consultant and speaker on topics such as design driven innovation, problem solving, personal and professional development, operational excellence, human performance, reliability, quality and safety.

John H. Rousch

Director, Highlands Aviation and Aerospace Academy
John Rousch is a 50-year education professional with a focus on high school students and young adults. He is a pilot, AOPA member, and Director of the Highlands Aviation and Aerospace Academy located at the Sebring Regional Airport, Sebring, Florida. The academy serves the secondary schools of the School District of Highlands County. He developed a high school Aerospace Technology curriculum that helped establish the EAA Chapter 1240 Aviation Development Center conducting a wide range of youth aviation programs, one of which is building an AirCam with astronaut Story Musgrave. John feels that the future of aviation and aerospace depends upon engaging youth in aviation and aerospace, and the best way is to involve schools and develop community partnerships.

Mike Halpern

Aerospace Technologies and Advanced Manufacturing Teacher, Highlands Aviation and Aerospace Program
Michael has been co-teaching the Aerospace Technologies and Advanced Manufacturing courses in the Highlands Aviation & Aerospace Program since 2017, where he facilitated over 40 students in the building of Story Musgrave’s AirCam. Over the course of the last three years, he has created a culture for learning which has allowed students of all ages and abilities to contribute to the construction of this experimental aircraft. By applying the best practices of classroom teaching to this project, every step in the process was leveraged as a learning opportunity for students. His experience as an educator over the past 15 years also includes five years as an assistant principal at both the elementary and middle school levels. Prior to his career in education, Michael managed multiple offset printing production companies in the Northeast. He holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, and is currently Vice President of EAA Chapter 1240 in Sebring, Florida.

Nicole Blount

Ray Aviation Scholar, EAA Chapter 1240, Highlands Aviation/Aerospace High School Program
Nicole Blount is a student pilot at Sebring Regional Airport, and a recipient of the 2019 Ray Aviation Flight Training Scholarship in association with EAA. She joined the Highlands Aviation and Aerospace High School Program in 2017, where she has gained experience through the AOPA high school curriculum and various building projects. Nicole is now working on earning her private pilot’s license. She is an Aerospace Engineering Intern at Lockwood Aviation, where she helps build Lockwood’s AirCam kits and develop instruction manuals for company and customer use. Additionally, she is active at her local airport through involvement with the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots, EAA Chapter 1240, and the Heartland Flying Club. She has been a part of various community fundraisers at KSEF and is currently helping with her EAA chapter’s scholarship review process.

Elexis Martin

Aerospace Engineering & Aviation Student, Steubenville High School
Elexis Martin is a junior at Steubenville High School, enrolled in the AOPA - You can Fly Curriculum. Currently, Elexis is in flight training at Pier Aviation, Jefferson County Airport (2G2). She is the 2020 recipient of the East Central Ohio Pilot’s Association (ECOPA) $2,500 flight training scholarship. Elexis balances academics, being a varsity athlete, mentor and student pilot through organizational skills and determination to achieve each goal she sets. She is a member of AOPA, EAA, ECOPA, and FAA Wings. Elexis is looking forward to finishing her private pilot license and continuing her ratings to becoming an Airline Transport Pilot.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Executive Director, You Can Fly, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Elizabeth Tennyson is the executive director of You Can Fly and is responsible for programs designed to get people flying and keep them flying. You Can Fly comprises four initiatives aimed at introducing high school students to aviation career opportunities, improving the flight training experience, making flying more accessible and affordable through flying clubs, and returning lapsed pilots to the cockpit. A native of California, Tennyson earned her private pilot certificate in 1998 and is an instrument-rated private pilot and a hang glider pilot. Tennyson holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and undergraduate degrees in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations from the University of Southern California. Tennyson first joined AOPA in 1998. Prior to joining You Can Fly, she held positions that included managing editor of Flight Training magazine, executive editor of AOPA Pilot magazine, vice president of publications, vice president of eMedia, and senior director of communications. Tennyson was a television, radio, and wire service reporter, working for the Associated Press in Los Angeles, Miami, and Raleigh, North Carolina, before joining AOPA. She also served as editor in chief for a collection of legal and golf magazines. Tennyson serves on the boards of the Aerospace Center for Excellence and the Aviation Accreditation Board International.
Lakisha Partman

LaKisha Partman

Vice President of Human Resources, Inclusion and Diversity, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
LaKisha is the Vice President of HR, Inclusion and Diversity. In her role, she contributes to the growth and development of the Association by partnering with and supporting the executive management team in helping AOPA to recruit great talent and fuel employees’ passion to serve our members and the general aviation industry. LaKisha also provides leadership and direction for AOPA’s overall inclusion & diversity strategies. A native of Maryland, LaKisha holds a Master of Labor and Human Resources from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina A&T State University. She also holds Professional in Human Resources and Society for Human Resources certifications. Prior to joining AOPA, LaKisha was the associate director of HR for a pharmaceutical company in Rockville, Maryland. In that role, she managed all facets of HR and supported special projects. LaKisha’s experience in Human Resources spans more than fifteen years across the non-profit, retail, banking and pharmaceutical industries.

Erik Yates

Director, Curriculum Development, You Can Fly, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Erik is the Director of Curriculum Development for the High School Initiative at AOPA. Erik joins the You Can Fly team after 25 years in education as a STEM supervisor, technology curriculum coordinator, teacher trainer, and classroom teacher from elementary school through high school physics. As the Program Director for the Global Learning non-profit organization in New Jersey, Erik designed and delivered STEAM training for teachers. His week-long summer institutes offered teachers hands-on learning experiences in problem-based learning and the engineering design process. Erik has inspired his students with aviation-themed lessons while teaching in places as diverse as Tianjin, China, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Chatham, New Jersey. A 3,500-hour ATP certificated pilot, Erik earned his private pilot, CFII, and MEII credentials in high school and college before instructing full time and completing his master’s degree in Education.

Taz Thomas

Manager, Scholarship Program, You Can Fly, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Taz administers all scholarships offered by AOPA, including the AOPA High School and Teacher Flight Training Scholarships and the AOPA Primary and Advanced Rating Flight Training Scholarships. Taz manages all aspects of the scholarship programs from application to selection to funding disbursement to recipient progress and data management. Through the generosity of donors, AOPA has awarded over $2.5m+ in scholarship funding to 345 aspiring pilots. Prior to joining AOPA Taz worked at the University of Maryland, College Park as a Financial Aid and Scholarship Coordinator. Taz received her MBA from Western International University and her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from State University of New York at Old Westbury.

Jamie Beckett

You Can Fly Ambassador, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Jamie Beckett is AOPA’s You Can Fly Ambassador in Florida. His mission is to share the enjoyment of all general aviation has to offer with anyone and everyone who shows an interest. Jamie can most often be found presenting Rusty Pilot seminars, working with flight students to improve their success rate, and guiding interested individuals and groups through the process of starting and operating flying clubs. His preferred mode of transportation is a bright yellow and black Reimagined Cessna 152, which he often refers to as his company car. Jamie holds commercial land and sea ratings for airplanes, as well as instrument and multi-engine instructor ratings. He’s owned multiple airplanes over the course of his career, ranging from a relatively ordinary 1963 Cessna 150, more than one WWII era Piper J3 Cubs, and an experimental AirCam twin-engine adventure machine. An A&P mechanic with a penchant for the classics and a frequent contributor to a wide variety of aviation publications, Jamie’s passion for general aviation is truly infectious.

Glenn Ponas

Director, High School Outreach, You Can Fly, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Glenn is responsible for providing programmatic, management and fiscal oversight of AOPA's High School initiative. He helps lead AOPA's effort to expand the adoption and implementation of the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum from its current 200+ schools in 38 states. Prior to joining AOPA, Glenn worked in the Pittsburgh Public School District as a Mathematics and Aviation Teacher and the Aviation Program Founder. He has thirty-one years of experience in the public sector as a secondary mathematics and aviation teacher, building and district level administrator, and gifted education curriculum development specialist. In 2002 he founded the Pittsburgh Gifted Center Aviation Program in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Over the next 18 years the program introduced over 3,000 students to the joy of flying, fostered over 900 first airplane rides as part of the EAA Young Eagles program, and helped inspire 27 former students to become FAA certified pilots. His students inspired him to earn his private pilot certificate in 2014, and he is currently working toward his instrument rating. In 2005, Glenn co-founded and was named President and COO of Frameworks Information Technology, Inc., a web-based data visualization and GIS analysis platform delivery company. He was also an educational data systems consultant at the state and national levels.

Download Sponsor and Exhibitor Prospectus


COVID-19 Safety

The AOPA Foundation is actively monitoring the incidence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). We have been asked how COVID-19 may impact the upcoming AOPA Foundation High School STEM Symposium. The AOPA Foundation will meet or exceed all local, state, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements regarding large gatherings and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

At this time, our upcoming AOPA Foundation High School STEM Symposium will take place as planned, in person and virtually. If you are sick or feel you are getting sick, we ask that you please stay home. The CDC recommends that people in high-risk groups consult with their healthcare provider about attending any large gathering. If you decide not to attend in person, we encourage you to attend virtually!



Interested in sponsoring this year's symposium? You'll find many opportunities in the 2021 AOPA H.S. Aviation STEM Symposium Prospectus. Exhibitor registration now open.

Click here to reserve your booth. For additional information on sponsor and exhibitor opportunities, contact [email protected]


Title Sponsor

United States Air Force

The mission of Air Force Recruiting Service is to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Airmen and Space professionals. We are looking for America’s best and brightest to fill approximately 30,000 opportunities in more than 200 Air Force specialties, as well as more than 300 space professionals in approximately 27 specific career fields in fiscal 2021. Additionally, our total force partners, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are collectively hiring more than 19,000 part-time Airmen. Our military recruits to retain, providing tough, highly technical training that gives our future servicemembers the right skills to sustain the combat capability of America’s Air Force and protect our nation’s interests in space. For more information about Air Force and U.S. Space Force benefits and opportunities, go to

To learn more about the Air Force Aim High Academy for high school and college students, click here.

General Sponsor

  • ASA

    Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc. has been providing trusted aviation training products for nearly 80 years to students, pilots, flight instructors, aviation maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, career aviators, remote pilots and drone operators. ASA's pilot supplies, software, and publications are supported with integrity, consistency, superior quality, and the highest level of customer service and product support in the industry.

General Sponsor

  • Redbird Flight Simulators

    Redbird Flight Simulations of Austin, TX was established in 2006 with the specific purpose of making aviation more accessible by using modern technology and careful engineering. Since its inception, Redbird has delivered innovative, reliable, and high-quality training devices to flight schools, colleges, universities, K-12 schools, and individual pilots around the world. With more than 2,000 devices in service worldwide, Redbird has quickly become the fastest growing and most innovative simulator provider in the industry.

General Sponsor

  • CAU

    California Aeronautical University (CAU) is a world-class training facility connected to Bakersfield International Airport in beautiful Southern California where students live, eat, and breathe aviation. The University offers aviation-related degree programs and training for students seeking careers as professional pilots and aviation business professionals. In this immersive aviation environment, CAU students gain valuable experience you just can’t get from off-airport instruction. Students also benefit from CAU’s growing relationships with industry partners, which can provide a direct pathway to a professional aviation career. Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Tour the campus at


  • American Airlines
  • Aviation Exploring
  • Azimuth Aerospace Solutions
  • Boeing
  • California Aeronautical University
  • Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus
  • LIFT Academy
  • Piedmont Airlines, Inc.
  • PSA Airlines
  • Redbird Flight Simulations
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology
  • United Airlines
  • United States Air Force
  • Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

Next Year

We look forward to seeing you November 14-16, 2021 in Orlando, FL for the 2021 AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium!