Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the recipient of grants totaling $10 million from Florida’s 2016-17  budget, as the state pushes STEM education further.

Increasing STEM education is necessary for the state to hold onto its strong rankings. Florida is ranked No. 1 in the nation by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in aerospace manufacturing attractiveness. It also is nationally ranked as the No. 2 largest aviation, aerospace and space establishment by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The university, which is 90 years old and specializes in aviation and aerospace, will receive a $5 million grant which is for the construction of a new wind tunnel complex. The wind tunnel will house testing, measurement and airflow functions.

“In addition to the expanded research potential for the university, this wind tunnel better positions our Research Park – allowing us to attract companies to the area, creating a platform for high-paying jobs,” said Mori Hosseini, Embry-Riddle’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Embry-Riddle also received $3 million to continue the Gaetz Aerospace Institute – a STEM education program created in 2004, now in over 70 Florida high schools across 35 counties – doubling size in the last year.

The program offers free college credits and hands-on experience in courses focusing on growing industries including aviation, unmanned systems, aerospace, engineering, computers and business. Nearly 3,000 high school students have or are currently participating in the program. 

An additional $2 million grant will focus on helping qualified student pilots secure the needed certifications at a reduced cost to become employable first officers – meeting the industry demand for pilots.  

In the past five years, the university has been appropriated more than $40 million in funds that have translated into research, outreach initiatives, infrastructure and projects.