Inner Banks STEM Center kicks off aviation camp

Published 6:32 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Washington Daily News

The Inner Banks STEM Center started its high school Summer Aviation Orientation Camp with instructors Jorge Bocanegra, Al Powell and Tom Meeks on Monday, continuing their summer program for high school and middle school students.

The holistic program gives students a chance to learn about engineering and aerodynamics through hands-on activities and social programs that expose them to new career paths and opportunities.

“This segment is focusing on high school kids,” said STEM Center president Al Powell. “So everything is done at a higher level of cognitive skill. Everything is pretty much geared to where, when they leave this camp next Friday, they will have seen stuff they probably had not seen before.”

Monday and Tuesday focused on introductions and the basics of aerodynamics, and the students made model airplanes that were tested in a wind tunnel for efficiency.

On Wednesday, students had the opportunity to learn about piloting from Maj. Desmond Powell, Al Powell’s son and a pilot for the U.S. Air Force Reserves and UPS. He gave a presentation about his career path, along with his experiences with different airplanes. His main lesson for the students: stay focused.

IN THE DETAILS: Maj. Desmond Powell shows high school students an instruction manual for flying an aircraft during Inner Banks STEM Center’s Summer Aviation Orientation Camp. (Sabrina Berndt)

“You have to understand what the end goal is,” Maj. Desmond Powell said. “So you have to find something that motivates you enough to get past that comfort zone. … You work hard, you get good jobs, you get good benefits.”

Later in the program, students will be attending the Virginia Air & Space Center and the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point to explore a career in the Marines.

The highlight of the program, however, is the opportunity to fly a real plane. Each student will learn how to fly a plane through flight simulator training and move on to fly a real plane once they become comfortable.

“Once they master maneuvers in that aircraft or that particular training device, then they’ll move on to fly the real airplane next week,” Al Powell said. “Each kid will get time in a real airplane.”

While focused on STEM, the program also takes pride in its holistic educational approach, including working to improve the students’ confidence and morals.

“We focus really hard on having a good moral compass, knowing the consequences of bad decisions as a youth and how to choose real friends and evaluate peer pressure,” Al Powell said.