Local High School Students Rule the Air!

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Thirteen high school students learned how to reach for the stars – or at least the friendly skies – at the 2011 Rule the Air! Summer Camp.

The one-week camp let participants compete against other would-be CEOs in charge of their own complete simulated airline, managing aircraft, selecting routes, scheduling flights, and other specific details. Camp par­ticipants make real-time decisions using software pro­vided by the airline industry. Known as AIRLINE Online and produced by Simulate! Pty, it runs on a high fidelity realistic simulation platform.

“The main focus is around the simulation software,” says doctoral candidate Brittany Luken, who directed the camp with help from other graduate students and researchers from GT's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). “The idea is the student will create and make business and operation decisions for their own airline. They decide everything, from the aircraft they lease or purchase to where and when they are flying and main­taining the aircraft, to setting the fares.” The dynamic environment lets students compete with each other for the highest profits or highest liquidated value.

The participants don’t spend all day working at the computer. They are taught the physics of flight, how airlines manage the science of booking passengers, and business aspects including finance, fleet management, marketing and advertising. With this new information in mind, each student designs a logo for his or her airline and establishes a frequent flyer program.

Camp participants took two field trips to learn more about the aviation industry. First, they visited Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and were taken on a tour “backstage." The second trip was to the Delta Air Transit Heritage Museum, which chronicles Delta Air Line’s story from its early days in crop dusting through earning its wings as one of the largest airlines in the world.

A student plays in the flight simulator at the Delta Air Transit Heritage Museum.

On the last day of camp, parents were invited to see the results of the students’ hard work. Parents also partici­pated with the students in a game of Jeopardy!, and learned how to craft paper airplanes.

Funding for the 2011 camp came from associate professor Laurie Garrow’s CAREER award, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Fund­ing for last year’s camp was part of a Garrett A. Morgan grant from the Federal Highway Administration awarded to Fulton County School District, CEISMC, and CEE.

Two papers, outlying the curriculum developed for the camp, have been presented or submitted for presentation at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conferences.

We would like to acknowledge the many individu­als who assisted with this year’s Rule the Air! program: Lauren Jones, Chris Cappelli, Susan Hotle, Dr. Tom Kieker, Margaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah, Stefanie Brodie, Moniqua Williams, Ana Eisenman, Elise Barrella, JP O’Har, Alex Khelifa, Greg Macfarlane, Dwayne Hencle­wood, and Simulate! Pty. Ltd.