Read more stories from the Focus FAA Summer of STEM series:(https://my.faa.gov/focus/articles/2017/09/Summer_of_STEM.html)
Ramone Crowe recently capped his summer in Michigan with the assumption of an annual position — that of camp director.
For the third year, he helmed the decades-old Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy held in Detroit from July 14 to July 18. He and other volunteers welcomed a group of 16 students, including Crowe’s 14-year-old daughter, Raven, to the campus of Wayne State University.
“It went really well this year,” said Crowe, program manager for the FAA’s AJW-137, NAS Integration and Support Group. Over fifteen years ago, he volunteered to help mentor young children before becoming the program’s director. The camp aims to provide underrepresented youth with aviation career education and to encourage them to pursue excellence and careers in aviation and aerospace science. (Read aFocus FAA article about Crowe’s community service here(https://my.faa.gov/focus/articles/2016/0 5/A____DNA____of_Commu.html) ).
Students visited Detroit Metropolitan Airport during the ACE Academy.
“The overall goal is to increase exposure to women and minorities and other underrepresented groups,” Crowe said. “We want to spark their interest in aviation so that they will pursue those careers.”
For 25 years, the university has hosted the Academy, one of the FAA’s initiatives within the Aviation and Space Education Outreach Program (https://my.faa.gov/tools_resources/training_learning/stem- avsed/program-structure/national-programs.html#ace) . The camp uses a curriculum with agency guidelines and focuses on the areas of aviation history, the theory of flight, parts of an airplane, navigation and weather, and aviation careers.
During the five-day camp, students participated in classroom activities, learning and demonstrations workshops, and field trips to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s Control Tower, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum, and an airplane ride at Coleman A. Young International Airport — formerly Detroit City Airport. As one highlight, the children took orientation flights that were insured and provided by certified pilots. For the camp’s culmination, faculty members presented awards to students and their parents and family members were given a summary of the program.
Ramone Crowe’s daughter, Raven, back right, and other students looked inside a cockpit with Capt. Stephanie Johnson of Delta Air Lines.
Several organizations sponsored the camp including the FAA, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE), the Tuskegee Airmen (TAI) National Museum, and Black United Fund (BUF) of Michigan. Crowe recognized the contributions of representatives of the camp’s partners, including Dr. Brian R. Smith, President of the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum who started the ACE Academy; Capt. Stephanie Johnson, who became Delta Air Lines’ first black female captain in 2016, and Capt. Jeff Lane, a Delta pilot and OBAP member. Other camp faculty members include current and retired air traffic controllers, maintenance technicians, retired and current pilots including several Tuskegee Airmen, and several entrepreneurs.
Crowe, who daughter started high school this year and aspires to become a plastic surgeon, noted the positive influence of Johnson, who has volunteered for over 15 years with the ACE camp. She is based in Detroit and is the Midwest Regional Director for OBAP. The camp’s participants were nearly evenly divided between girls and boys.
“It was good to have her there as a positive role model for the girls,” Crowe said of Johnson. “We look at her as a hidden figure but not so hidden today.”
Crowe is launching a 2018 ACE Academy II program in partnership with Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. Smith, who is also president of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum, called Crowe the “energy behind ACE Academy II.”
“Ramone has pretty much taken the lead in the ACE Academies in Detroit,” Smith said. “That has been a great relief to see a younger person stepping up and taking over. Ramone picked up the flag and is now carrying it forward.”
Smith said that organizers have learned through the years that several former campers have become commercial airline pilots and entered other aviation-related fields. The program provides young students from underserved areas with much-needed exposure to professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (https://my.faa.gov/focus/articles/2017/09/Summer_of_STEM.html) .
Students were given an up close look at the gliders at the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum.
“We’ve had another two or three [students] become mechanics,” Smith said. “We know others’ lives were enriched by the knowledge they gained. They do not see aviation professionals and they do not hear about African-American aviation professionals, let alone have one come and talk to them about [their profession].”
Students visited various aviation facilities during the five-day camp.
Another camp faculty member and sponsor, Kenneth Donaldson, president and chief executive of the Black United Fund of Michigan, Inc., said the ACE Academy exposes children to a “myriad of opportunities,” from air traffic control to aircraft maintenance. He recounted his meeting with an African-American pilot in an airport. The pilot shared the impetus for his career choice — his parents took him on a flight when he was a child and a flight attendant escorted him to the cockpit. He said, “as soon as the cockpit opened, I knew what I wanted to be in life,” Donaldson recalled. “He brought that thing to fruition. It shows you the value of exposure.”
Crowe agreed. The camp’s influence this year was clear. “We had three [students] who wanted to be military pilots,” he said. “We put them in programs to further their exposure. We had a couple who were interested in engineering.”
That’s the goal of the camp’s partners, Crowe added. “All the organizations have the same mission to do that.”
Top Photo: Ramone Crowe, far right, with participants in this summer’s ACE Academy in Detroit.