Federal Aviation Administration

ACE Academy 2013 Students Expand Their Horizons

By: Mary Lou Dordan, Program Manager
FAA, STEM Aviation & Space Education (AVSED) /Community Outreach Program

The Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum conducted their Fifth Annual ACE Academy in July that opened the eyes of 33 students to a new, exciting, and much bigger world of aviation than they had ever imagined. This Academy is conducted in collaboration with our FAA AVSED program. The goal of the ACE Academy staff is to emphasize the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) skills to these students, as they explore the wide range of career opportunities available within the aerospace industry.

The students (ages 12-18) enjoyed interactive air traffic control simulations, Federal Air Marshal hijack and self-defense demonstrations, fire testing demos, an opportunity to climb into the cab of our High Performance Response Vehicle, and a variety of exciting tours throughout our Tech Center laboratories. Their trip to the ACY Air Traffic Control Tower was highlighted with a birds-eye view of nearby F-16 landings along with a USCG helicopter making a pass near the tower cab.

The students toured the multi-million dollar jets maintained at the Midlantic Jet facility located on the airport. Not to be outdone, tours of our FAA aircraft showed the students another exciting realm of aviation in our flying laboratories.

Many safety questions were answered during a tour of the Transportation Security Laboratories (TSL) where the students heard fascinating explanations of our response to explosive terrorist tactics.

The tour of the ACY Terminal was a perfect segue to the security measures in place at airports as a result of TSL research/development/testing/evaluations. The students were treated to an extensive behind-the-scenes tour of the airport terminal, including the Operations Center, TSA baggage scanning area, and passenger screening and gate areas. They were able to see how the equipment they viewed in the TSL labs had been put into service in the real world.

Of course, no ACE Academy is complete without tours of the U.S. Coast Guard and 177th Fighter Wing of the NJ Air National Guard bases. Every Academy has recognized several students focused upon military careers, for whom these tours are particularly exciting and informative.

The final two days of the Academy were based out of the Cape May Airport area where students experienced exciting demos of the Cape May County Sheriff's K-9 unit, Cape May Airport operations procedures, military and civilian aircraft static displays, various small airport service providers, and a tour of our nation's only Coast Guard recruit training center.

It is no wonder there is always a waiting list of students hoping to get accepted into this Academy each year. The following text is a typical feedback note from an ACE Academy parent:

"One of the best camps we have experienced! Each day held a wealth of information, hands on learning and exposure to different facets of a career in aviation. The counselors were kid-focused and provided many once in a lifetime opportunities. I would strongly recommend this camp. We traveled from upstate NY and found lodging for the week so that my son could attend the camp. We are so glad that we did!"

The FAA is proud to be associated with the NASW Aviation Museum, and we hope they continue to offer educational experiences of this caliber to students in the future.


FAA Controller works with ACE Students in Air Traffic Control Laboratory.  (Photo credit: Mary Lou Dordan)

FAA Controller works with ACE Students in Air Traffic Control Laboratory. (Photo credit: Mary Lou Dordan)

Page Last Modified: 08/08/13 08:44 EDT

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