The Sacramento Bee
Houston Airport System Launches Aviation Club to Boost the Next Generation of Aviation and Aerospace Leaders
October 24, 2012
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  • HOUSTON, Oct. 24, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Mayor Annise Parker announced a new collaborative effort to broaden the number of young people who reach for the stars in careers in aviation and aerospace with the launch of the Houston Airport System Aviation Club.

    “Houston’s legacy as a world leader in aerospace jobs will continue with the development of this exciting and innovative community outreach to the next generation,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “By creating the spark in the minds of young people, we ensure that ‘Space City’ will continue to change the world as an economic driver in the aviation and aerospace industries.”

    Founded in fall 2012, the Houston Airport System will sponsor the new Aviation Club at two high school chapters, Sterling High School and Carnegie Vanguard High School.

    Houston Airport System Director of Aviation Mario C. Diaz had a vision to launch the Aviation Club during the school year of 2012 in Houston as a means to plant seeds for future generations to enter aviation and aerospace as a career. Diaz dreamed of aviation when he was growing up in New York and found early exposure to the industry to become critical for his career path.

    “As a teenager, I became fascinated with aviation and I enjoy the journey I experienced as first a pilot and later as an executive for airports in three major U.S. cities,” said Diaz. “My dream is to create a Houston-based initiative geared to launching the passion for flying in the next generation of aviators and space pioneers.”

    During the two-hour sessions with the Aviation Club, students are meeting on a monthly basis to participate in learning, enrichment and mentoring activities.

    “Mario Diaz and the Houston Airport System are serving as catalysts to engage our young men and women in aviation and generate excitement toward math and science,” said Dr. Mark A. Friend, Dean of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University central region-worldwide campus.

    “This is exactly what our youth need as they mature and pursue their dreams through higher education,” added Dr. Friend. “It is what our nation needs as we strive to remain on the forefront of aviation and aerospace.”

    Numerous community groups accepted the invitation from the Houston Airport System to participate and support the new Aviation Club. The list of sponsors includes the following:

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
    Texas Southern University
    San Jacinto College
    Lone Star College
    Houston Independent School District (College and Career Readiness)
    Sterling High School
    Carnegie Vanguard High School
    Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
    Johnson Space Center
    City of Houston

    “Texas Southern University is very excited to be part of the initiative to create the Aviation Club, a workforce pipeline not only for the aviation field, but also for the STEM fields in general, which are so critical to our national economy and security,” said Dr. Lei Yu, Dean and Professor of the College of Science and Technology for Texas Southern University.

    One of the ultimate goals of the new program is to build a new workforce to accept the challenges for tomorrow’s aviation and aerospace jobs. Houston continues to lead the nation in the creation of new jobs during a difficult economy. The effort to groom students for a bright future is essential to a strong Houston.

    “Today’s students have many career choices but also face many distractions,” said Bob Mitchell, President of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. “The newly-created Aviation Club will assist students in focusing on some of the most exciting career opportunities available now and in the future – the fields of aerospace and aviation. The Aviation Club will serve to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math, which is critical if America is to maintain its leadership in space exploration.”

    The Aviation Club is expected to be expanded to additional schools in the 2013 school year.