More than 40 high school students from St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 visited the DuPage Airport Authority recently for an educational program revolving around careers in aviation.
The students, from St. Charles East and North high schools, are currently enrolled in Aerospace Engineering classes as part of Project Lead the Way – a national program focused on engaging STEM education.
The morning began with a quick overview of the DuPage Airport, which serves upwards of 90,000 operations annually. The airport and flight center accommodate business aviation with a 1 million square-foot apron, four runways, two instrument landing system approaches and a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Office.
“This was a fantastic day with the engineers and aviation pioneers of the future,” said Mark Doles, director of Aviation Facilities & Properties/DuPage Flight Center, said in a news release. “DuPage Airport is a premier aviation facility right in these students’ backyard, and a great place for hands-on learning and instruction from some of the best in the industry.”
The students heard from United Captain John White about the path to becoming a pilot and what drew him to a life in the sky. A tour of the facility followed, and students broke into small groups for in-depth discussions with the people who keep the airport running safely and efficiently. Stops included a visit with first responders at the 4,700 square-foot aircraft rescue and firefighting station, a tour of the 24-7 air traffic control tower and an overview of the on-site corporate Flight Department.
“This is such a valuable field trip for our students,” St. Charles East High School physics and engineering teacher Anthony Cerqua said in the release. “We cover airport operations, flight controls and navigation in the classroom, but it’s always so much more impactful to get out and experience some of these concepts first-hand.”