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CAF Southern California Wing Launches a Cadet Aviation Science and Leadership Program

The Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF So. Cal. Wing) launched a Cadet Aviation Science & Leadership Training program for high school students which focuses on Aerospace and Engineering education. The program is partnered with Rancho Campaña High School’s Academy of Engineering in Camarillo, California, and is designed to give interning students an intensive overview of the following:

  • Understanding of basic aerodynamics

  • Introduction to primary aircraft systems

  • Aircraft fabrication skills

  • Understanding of basic engineering concepts: Electrical and Mechanical

  • Hands-on experience in the areas of Manufacturing and Restoration

  • Project Management

  • Leadership

  • Safety and Human Factors

The program was initiated in March of 2022 - at the request of Dr. Katie Barry of Rancho Campaña High School, who wanted to see if the So. Cal. Wing would be interested in mentoring some of her students in the areas of Aerodynamics and Engineering.

As this was a new endeavor for the So. Cal. Wing, it was decided that it would be best to start slow with 14 students. A query was sent out to the Rancho Campaña’s student body to see if there was any interest. Surprisingly, approximately 40 students responded. This required the list to be reduced to a manageable level in order to accommodate the number of volunteers.

The respondents participated in an interview process similar to that of a job interview. Once selected, each student committed to attending two 3-hour sessions (meeting on the second and fourth Saturdays) each month. Each Saturday session focuses on one specific subject, and is supplemented with some hands-on demonstrations or lab work. Lastly, the lectures and labs are tied in with the students getting “up close and personal” with our Wing’s historical aircraft, combining theory with real hardware.

In addition to the regular lecture sessions the So. Cal. Wing has invited impressive guest speakers from industry and professional organizations - like NASA and Lockheed-Martin. Most are heavily invested in STEM programs. This Cadet Intern Program is STEaM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, art, Mathematics) and planned out for one year. Each of the regular sessions are created and taught by fellow So. Cal. Wing volunteers.

Excerpts taken from an article written by Rob Mawer for CAF Southern California's "Flight Line"

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