SMA Students are Taking Flight with STEMPilot!

STEMPilot is one of the focal point of our newly renovated STEAM Learning Center. STEMPilot is a program that develops STEAM skills and introduces students to multiple STEAM-related careers including engineering, coding, business, and aviation. The full program includes a flight simulator and science curriculum. San Miguel Academy provides its students access to STEAM technologies and experiences to make them competitive in the workforce. With the national shortage of pilots, STEMPilot will help provide the path for students to pursue a career in aviation. 

We are fortunate to have David Terwilliger, A320 Captain, Major, U.S.A.F. Retired, teaching our STEMPilot program.  Captain Terwilliger graduated from the Naval Academy, earning his wings at Navy Flight School. He was a Navy pilot for 17 years, followed by eight years with the National Guard. Over the years, he’s flown a variety of aircrafts, including the P-3 Orion, used for anti-submarine and maritime surveillance, and the C5 cargo plane, which he piloted on aerial refueling missions.  For the past 30 years, Captain Terwilliger  has been with American Airlines, flying international and domestic routes.  He is very encouraging about the “tremendous opportunity and earning potential for young people entering the field of aviation.”  

The development of career-ready skills for the 21st-century marketplace is at the core of our curriculum. By 2030, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10.5% increase in the number of STEM-related occupations, higher than the average of 7% for non-STEM occupations. In the field of aviation and specifically for pilots, the projected growth is even higher: “Overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations” (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook).  The recent addition of STEMPilot to our programming is in direct response to this data. As the program expands, we plan to offer classes to San Miguel Academy graduates through our Graduate Success Program.

San Miguel Academy’s staff developed the Project and Place-Based Learning Program, an interactive STEAM-focused approach that facilitates inquiry and investigation.  STEAM is incorporated into cross-curricular hands-on projects in which students are continually developing problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills. Inside and out of the classroom, our Project and Place-Based Learning Program engages students in learning that nurtures their natural curiosities. By incorporating a wide range of learning modalities into the curriculum, the result is stronger links between formal content, understanding, and, ultimately, higher retention rates. As we prepare our students for success in high school, college, and other post-secondary options, it’s clear that a strong foundation in STEAM provides them with critical proficiencies and advantages for 21st-century career opportunities.

In 2022, San Miguel Academy dedicated the Sister Agnes Boyle Steam Learning Center, which was the first major renovation since purchasing the building in 2020. Other STEAM activities include Computer-Aided Design (CAD), laser cutting, 3D printing and fabrication techniques, coding literacy, robotics, circuitry literacy, and Design Thinking.