One day, Bethlehem High School teacher David Williams was told to go outside and look up.

“One of my students who graduated the year before, she was doing one of her solo (plane flights),” he said. “She was in flight training. She just happened to go over the school. That was a fun teaching moment.”

Williams doesn’t just teach English to students. He is also the instructor for the school’s aerospace and engineering program.

An aerospace and technology educational program at Bethlehem High School, led by teacher David Williams, intends to get students interested in the field and possibly working in the sector. [COLLIN BREAUX | The Advertiser] 

The courses cover everything from flying planes to operating drones, along with other technological topics. The program also had 3D printers. Some of his students have joined the Air Force.

Ninth grade students start off with introductory education where they get to learn about careers in aerospace and getting them used to the topic.

“Starting in 10th grade, it’s dual enrollment through Embry-Riddle,” Williams said. “The following year, they take cross-country flight planning for UAS where they basically learn to plan flight missions for drones. The second semester, they take an aerial photography course.” 

Williams is also an adjunct professor for Embry-Riddle.

Students get to learn a lot through the program.

“They deal with engineering, human physiology. We talk a lot about how flight affects the inner ear, hypoxia, all of that,” Williams said. “They learn about meteorology. We talk a lot about weather because we have to when you’re flying. They can tell about the wind speed direction, cloud levels and coverage, dew point, temperature, visibility, all that fun stuff.”

Elementary students get excited when they come through the class, he said. Parents are also reportedly intrigued when visiting for open house.

“It really exposes kids to a lot of opportunities that they might not have had,” Williams said. “I got a letter from a student. She took the class and that gave her a direction and she ending up getting a bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle and is now working in the engineering field.”

The program recently had students do well at an underwater robotics SeaPerch competition. Students being able to practice in a pool the Holmes District School Board provided helped with that, Williams said.

The classes tend to be small, though Williams said there is room for growth.

“I would love to have more that are interested in it,” he said. 

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