Roughly 600,000 attendees will cross through the gates of EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisc., while a special program works to inspire the next generation of pilots and aviation enthusiasts. Known as KidVenture, this program is dedicated to engaging with the thousands of attending K-12 youth through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities and interaction with experts in aviation-centric careers.
Why do we support this program? First, it is a great way to support kids. Second, the Boeing Market Outlook estimates that the demand for new pilots, technicians and cabin crew members will exceed 2.4 million people over the next 20 years. In addition, there will be exponential growth in demand for engineers. Most of those who will fill those needs are in our K-12 schools today. Providing a fun way to introduce those young people to aviation careers helps us meet that future challenge. Also, as a part of Boeing's sponsorship of the event, young people age 18 and under are being admitted free to EAA AirVenture this year, as a way to introduce more youth to the world of flight.
The Boeing booth in the KidVenture hangar will provide a hands-on activity - building and launching air-powered paper rockets as an example - to spark interest in aviation and offer the opportunity to learn about aviation-related careers. As the kids are constructing their rockets, a Boeing employee will sit by their side to assist them and talk about their career aspirations or answer any questions. They may also ask the kids to think about their rocket design and what decisions they can make to "optimize" it. These interactions promote critical thinking and give the participants a taste of the problem solving skills that Boeing engineers and scientists use on a daily basis, hopefully whetting their appetite for more.
EAA AirVenture is truly an airshow with something for everyone. If you're able to attend the show in Oshkosh, take a moment to stop by the Boeing pavilion or the KidVenture hangar to say hi. We'd love to meet you.