Civil Air Patrol cadets sitting at a table

Written by Capt. HJ Bentley III, North Carolina Wing Group VI Public Affairs Officer

Saturday October 24th, Aviation Institute of Maintenance Charlotte faculty and students welcomed 34 cadets from the North Carolina Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to the Inaugural STEM Workshop Project Spark, which focused on electricity. Following all CDC guidelines for social distancing and face coverings, the campus was able to offer a safe and informative session to the cadets which came from across the state.

The event offered cadets hands-on STEM activities with an introduction to aircraft electrical systems, basic soldering skills and techniques. “CAP Cadets are naturally attracted to our organization because we offer flight exposure and aerospace education. Cadets who are interested in learning to fly, should also be learning how the planes work and how they are made.” said Maj Tammy Hallihan, Assistant Director of NCWG Cadet Programs.

All workshops in the series are taught by FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplant technicians and student assistants called ACES (AIM Community Engaged Students). ACES apply for open positions on service-learning projects focused on giving back to the community using the skills they have learned in the classroom. ACES have given nearly 100 hours of their time to service projects in the first month of the program and are excited to continue to contribute.

This event is the beginning of a partnership between Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Charlotte and North Carolina Wing Civil Air Patrol Cadet Programs. “We’ve been working with Major Hallihan and Civil Air Patrol since February to make this a reality. This is an excellent opportunity to build a working relationship with CAP to provide STEM opportunities into the future. Through these workshops’ cadets will gain an appreciation of what aircraft technicians go through in order to gain their certification”,” said Alex Diaz, Campus Executive Director of the Charlotte AIM Campus.

Project Spark is the first in a series of three workshop sessions focusing on Electricity, Propulsion and Aviation Materials. Each 4-hour workshop is planned to support up to 60 cadets and a have a unique challenge coin related to the theme. Cadets who complete the 3-Session Series will be awarded a special fourth challenge coin.

These workshops are an opportunity to build a working relationship with CAP, not just in North Carolina but potentially with AIM’s 12 other campuses across the nation. “The Cadet Programs Mission for Civil Air Patrol is to transform youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders. This new partnership with AIM provides our cadet membership with hands-on STEM education and in-demand career exposure in an accessible Saturday activity format. AIM is developing the program to support our cadet aerospace curriculum and utilize the school’s strengths. The program is intended to be repeatable annually and scalable to other interested AIM locations.” said Maj Tammy Hallihan.

CAP cadet soldering a chip
CAP cadet working on electronics

Mr. Dave Slaybaugh, a former CAP Senior member in the 1960’s and now an instructor with the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Charlotte, was excited to see so many cadets show up for the inaugural session. “I hope they can takeaway a basic knowledge that sparks an interest in a future career in aviation and gives them confidence in working with their hands.”

C/Maj Isabella Ross from Union County Composite Squadron said concisely what everyone else must have been feeling by the end of the workshop, “It was a whole new experience for me today!” “This took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to do something new and left me feeling better about myself.”

“At the end of the day this program is our way of giving back to the community and we’re looking forward to working with CAP on future workshops.” said Diaz.

About Aviation Institute of Maintenance

Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando, and Norfolk. Learn more at or like them on Facebook at

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