The third annual MTSU Introduction to Aviation Summer Camp attracted nearly 40 high school students from across the region and even one from as far away as Texas.
With assistance from flight instructors and other MTSU personnel, director Wendy Beckman made sure the 36 teenagers gain a full grasp of all aspects of aerospace.
“This gives students a chance to look at aviation maintenance, air traffic control, professional pilot and aerospace technology to find out if there’s something they’re interested in for a career,” said Beckman, a professor in the Department of Aerospace, one of the university’s premier programs.
The introduction camp was held June 9-13. From June 16-18, the Professional Pilot Advanced Camp features more flight time and ground instruction for 10 participants.
“The students rotate through a number of stations,” Beckman added. “They get to fly in our Diamond sim(ulator). They actually get to go in a Diamond flight. They spend an hour going on a short cross-country trip. So they get introduced to a lot of aspects of aviation.”
Incoming MTSU freshman Mathew Shearer discussed the maintenance side to the camp.
“It’s actually pretty neat, getting to learn about the internal combustion engines for aircraft,” said Shearer, 18, a Williamson County, Tennessee, resident and 2014 Page High School graduate.
“We actually started one up, got to see how it works, learned some of the fire safety systems, what they do for non-destructive inspections so they know when something is going wrong,” he added. “We got to do a few hands-on things in some classroom. It was a pretty neat experience to see what all goes on behind the scenes.”
Jake Garrette, 17, a rising senior at Community High School in Unionville, Tennessee, said visiting the air traffic control tower in the Business and Aerospace Building was “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
“They simulate a full control tower,” said Garrette, who added he plans to attend MTSU starting in the 2015-16 academic year and major in the professional pilot concentration. “It was so much fun. You could be a pilot or a controller and guide the planes in. We knew no lives were at stake, but we could learn how it all works. It was unbelievable.”
Garrette, who said he is considering joining the U.S. Air Force or another military area after graduating from MTSU, said he “feels reassured what I want to do after seeing all this.”
Bryson Garrett, 14, of Murfreesboro, a rising freshman at Central Magnet School, and Matt Gibson, 15, who attends Harwood Junior High School in Bedford, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, shared how much fun it was to fly the Diamond DA-40 planes, which are a major part of the MTSU fleet.
Regarding the aerodynamics of flight, Carly Alsup, 13, of Murfreesboro, a rising eighth-grade student at Central Magnet School, said she “really liked learning about the more technical side of it, like how the plane can fly and why it does, and some tips on actually getting up in the plane.”
Look for dates for the 2015 camps on the aerospace website, http://mtsu.edu/aerospace/, sometime after Feb. 1. The site also has other information about the camps and the aerospace department.
For more information, call 615-898-2788.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)