July, 19, 2018

The team representing Erie 1 BOCES Harkness Career and Technical Center in Cheektowaga, NY, was the winner of GAMA’s sixth annual Aviation Design Challenge. As their prize, GAMA recently sent four students from the team, and their teacher, on an all-expenses paid, two-week trip to help build a plane at Glasair Aviation in Arlington, WA.

“I can’t imagine a better prize to win. Being able to walk into a hangar full of parts and see it taxi two weeks later,” said Thomas Leach, Erie 1 BOCES aviation instructor. “I wanted them to have an understanding of how much really goes into an aircraft. I am so thankful for the opportunity.”

The competition allowed the students to gain hands-on experience in the design, project management and engineering that goes into building a plane. The No Plane No Gain program – jointly sponsored by NBAA and GAMA – educates policymakers and opinion leaders about the importance of these, and a host of other high-skill, high-income jobs created by business aviation. The team worked in different roles including managers and test pilots, simulating a real-world team environment.

During their two-week trip to Washington, the students immersed themselves in building the plane they designed. They often worked more than 10 hours a day in order to complete the project, along with the help of volunteers from the main sponsor of this year’s program, Click Bond, a company that produces fasteners for airplanes.

“The greatest benefits of the trip were the opportunity overall, the chance to get to know people in the industry and being able to see something come from nothing,” said Jacob Bell, a member of the Erie 1 BOCES team.

“We all got to spend a lot of time together on the trip,” added Tatiana Forbes, a junior selected for the team, who also enjoyed, “learning everything about building a plane” and took the opportunity to network with volunteers from Click Bond.

For five years, the GAMA Design Challenge has promoted Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education through aviation education in high schools across the U.S.. This year, the competition included applicants from 130 high schools across 39 states.

Learn more about GAMA’s Aviation Design Challenge.