United Way of Southwest Alabama / Uncategorized  / Mobile’s 2019 Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge Concludes

Mobile’s 2019 Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge Concludes

(Mobile, AL) – On Friday, April 26, Airbus Americas Engineering Mobile (Airbus) and United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA), in partnership with Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF), the Exploreum Science Center (Exploreum), Palmer Pillans Middle School (Pillans), and Mobile County Public Schools (MCPSS), held a closing event for the 2019 Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge (AFFC), a twelve-week-long mentoring program funded by the Airbus Foundation that focuses on character development and STEM activities for students at Pillans..

The closing event began with a trip to the Exploreum, where students toured the My Body Works, Scratch Factory, and Discovery Zone exhibits and participated in a hands-on workshop of STEM activities. The students were given a guided tour of Airbus Americas Engineering that incorporated demonstrations on flammability and 3D drawing.  The event ended with a certificate ceremony for the students who completed the mentorship program and special poster presentation to Airbus Engineering Mobile Site Director Dave Trent and Pillans Principal Jacinda Hollins.

The 2019 AFFC began in January with a special event at Camp Whispering Pines on January 18. This fun-filled morning featured several outdoor activities designed to promote team work and good communication between the students and Airbus mentors.

Throughout the program students participated in team mentoring sessions. The sessions featured STEM and character development workshops. During one project the students were charged with designing a cart from paper, rubber bands, pencils, and masking tape that could travel three feet while carrying cargo.

“The year started as a couple of mentors with three kids who knew some about each other from previous years, but by the end of the year we were a cohesive unit, working together with each of our skills. Our mentees were confident enough to open up and talk about their lives more while working on activities of the program. It’s definitely rewarding having them trusting us and really being part of a team,” said Airbus mentor Daniel.

As part of the culmination of this year’s AFFC, students participated in a discovery flight that let them fly in a real airplane. Not only did they see what it’s like to fly and get a spectacular view from the sky, but they also learned how the flight controls are used to maneuver the plane and how the plane’s wings generate the lift needed to keep it aloft.  Best of all, they had the opportunity to enjoy a truly unique experience.

More than three quarters of mentored young adults seek to enroll in and graduate from college, according to recent research. Mentored youth are also more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities, often times holding a leadership position. These aspirations and activities translate into higher self-esteem and self-confidence, traits necessary for youth to engage in teamwork and community work, and to be successful in life.

The AFFC presents the opportunity for Airbus employees to provide career exploration, life skills discussions, educational activities, and academic enrichment to middle school students. The goal is to enhance students’ life options by increasing their engagement in learning, inspiring them to finish high school, stimulating their interest in an aviation- or other STEM-related career, and encouraging them to adopt positive behaviors that will help them be successful and fulfill their potential.

“Students participating in programs similar to the Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge have improved attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions about school, academics, and careers.” said David Trent “Airbus shapes the future of air transportation on a daily basis, but through this program, Airbus employees are able to help foster students to aspire to a future for themselves.”

In addition to making children more confident in their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, research has shown that mentoring makes students less likely to skip class or school and less likely to begin using illegal drugs or alcohol.

“Our children deserve a strong start in life,” said Jill Chenoweth, UWSWA President and CEO, “through the Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge, we have an opportunity to encourage students and give them the inspiration needed to pursue their dreams.”

The Airbus Foundation also sponsors Flying Challenges in Canada, China, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The Foundation donated approximately $56,000 in funding for the Mobile program.

About Airbus Americas

In addition to its aircraft being operated by the largest U.S. airlines, Airbus is a major partner of U.S. aerospace companies, supporting 275,000 American jobs. In the last three years, Airbus spent $48 billion in the United States. Among its U.S. facilities: engineering centers in Kansas and Alabama; training facilities in Florida and Colorado; materials support and headquarters in Virginia; an A320 Family assembly line in Alabama; a think tank (A3) in California; a drone data analysis business (Airbus Aerial) in Georgia; helicopter manufacturing and assembly in Texas and Mississippi; and a satellite manufacturing facility (OneWeb) under construction in Florida. For more information about Airbus, please visit

About Airbus Foundation

The Airbus Foundation is the vehicle for Airbus Group for corporate philanthropy, using the Group’s resources, aeronautic and space products, competencies, diverse workforce and culture for driving innovation to address societal issues. In particular, the Foundation supports the global humanitarian community and inspires and prepares young people for the challenges of tomorrow.

About United Way of Southwest Alabama

United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) serves Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile, and Washington counties. Created in 1926 as a Community Chest, UWSWA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the community. The vision of UWSWA is to strengthen communities by focusing on uniting and mobilizing resources in support of the building blocks for a better life: education, financial stability, health, and essentials. UWSWA has raised and invested into our community more than $245 million to help strengthen its capacity for positive community progress. Many of the issues that affect our community are addressed by funded programs and initiatives that help more than half a million local people each year. For more information, visit

About Mobile Area Education Foundation

The Mobile Area Education Foundation, founded in 1992, is Mobile’s only community-based nonprofit leading a count-wide partnership of citizens, businesses, public schools, and public agencies working together to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to succeed, experience a rigorous and relevant education, and graduate college and career ready.

 About Exploreum Science Center

With interactive, hands-on exhibits, thought-provoking larger-than-life IMAX films, and fun, hands-on educational programming, the Exploreum Science Center aspires to increase science literacy among the people of south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region, residents and visitors alike. It does this through permanent hands-on galleries, educational exhibitions, guided tours, lectures, classes, school field trips, youth camps, exciting festivals and events, and interactive demonstrations using chemistry, healthy cooking, engineering, art, physics, aviation, earth science, and more. It is a destination for families with children, adults, seniors and all ages. By sparking imagination, creating curiosity, and instilling a sense of wonder in the world, the Exploreum has been a cornerstone of informal learning on the Gulf Coast since its inception more than 30 years ago. With the continued support of the community—visionary civic leaders, generous donors, contributing members and volunteers—the Exploreum is able to bring the world of science to the Gulf Coast.

About Mobile County Public Schools
The Mobile County Public Schools (MCPSS) is the largest in the state of Alabama with approximately 54,000 students in 89 schools.  MCPSS has been recognized nationally. The district has 13 Blue Ribbon Schools and is home to 12 Signature Academies that are graduating students who are college and career ready. The four-year, on-time graduation rate has improved to 86 percent, and students in 2018 earned $140 million in college scholarships and 14,000 career credentials.  Accredited by national standards of AdvanceEd, the mission of the MCPSS is to graduate prepared and productive citizens.




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