The Polk State College Aerospace program and the Aerospace Center of Excellence (ACE) will fly high during SUN'n FUN, one of the most important aerospace exhibitions in the world. SUN 'N FUN attracts more than 225,000 people to Lakeland every year. During this event, Lakeland Airport (Lakeland Linder International Airport) becomes the busiest airport in the nation. This year the exhibition will be held from March 28 to April 2.
The aerospace sector is a booming global industry and Florida is considered the cradle of commercial aviation. Fortunately, Polk County offers opportunities including world-class training through the Aerospace Center for Excellence, Polk State College Aerospace Program, and the Incubator of Aerospace and Logistics Companies called ELEVATE. In Polk County, young people have the opportunity to start their career in aviation at an early age, graduate from high school in ACE with a totally free pilot certificate and continue their aerospace studies at Polk State College.
One of those responsible for these programs is Mr. Rick García, owner of Gulf Coast Avionics. Rick is the chairman of the Board of Directors of ACE, a former member of the Board of Directors of the District of Polk State College, who is credited with the success and advancement of the infrastructure of the aerospace education sector in the county. As a child he was lucky enough to participate in similar programs and as a thank you, it has been his mission to ensure that our young people have the opportunity to study this career for free through scholarships and grants. Thanks to him, hundreds of students graduate as a pilot at the age of 18 and can continue their aviation studies at the university, ensuring high-demand careers and high salaries. Although he admits that this would not have been possible without the participation of educational organizations and other collaborators.
Dr. Angela G. Falconetti, President of Polk State College, is very grateful for Mr. Rick García's efforts and his commitment to starting the Polk State Aerospace program in 2013; this program today has approximately 300 students a year who graduate in Professional Pilot, Aerospace Administration, Aviation Maintenance, and Aircraft Office. Most of them study through scholarships or with a fraction of the cost of other universities or private schools, without sacrificing quality. Polk State Aerospace commercial pilot license applications have a 95% pass rate in the Federal Aviation Association certification exam.
Falconetti was also one of the first to partner with ACE for the development of ELEVATE. This initiative allows to offer members of the incubator the opportunity to obtain university credits, and students of the aerospace program to do internships through ELEVATE. Its students actively participate in SUN 'n FUN, which represents one of the many experimental learning experiences.
For more information, visit:
polk.edu/aerospace, www.elevateincubator.com, aceedu.org, flysnf.org.