Experience Aviation, a learning center founded by Capt. Barrington Irving, has received a $10,000 grant from PBS&J to create a science and math scholarship for minority youth.
“PBS&J continually searches for projects that support and emphasize reading, math and science,” said Irving, the youngest and first black pilot to fly solo around the globe. “And our students are usually weak in those areas. At the same time, I am able to reach students in an effective way, so it’s really a great match.”
Carlos Maeda, vice president of PBS&J’s National Aviation Service, said the company tried to support disadvantaged children and encourage them to study.
“And everyone is fascinated with aviation,” he said. “Even if these kids don’t become pilots, they get to see firsthand all the things that surround aviation.
It’s a tremendous motivator. That’s why the opportunity to work with Experienced Aviation and Barrington is so great.”
Irving founded the non-profit Experience Aviation to inspire youth to identify and pursue their dreams through dynamic education and aviation programs.
The organization seeks to build math, science, reading and problem-solving skills.
The PBS&J Foundation, Inc. on July 2 presented the grant to Experience Aviation to fund creation of the PBS&J Learn and Lead Science and Math Scholarship.
PBS&J is an employee-owned company that provides infrastructure planning, engineering, construction management, architecture, and program management services to public and private clients.
Located at the Opa-Locka Executive Airport, Experience Aviation’s Learning Center introduces underserved students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to career opportunities in the industries of aviation, aerospace and engineering.
A portion of the scholarship money will be used to fund the Discover Aviation afterschool and Build and Soar summer programs, where students can take advantage of opportunities including building math and science skills, engaging in flight simulator practice, building rockets and learning about careers in aviation, Irving said.
“Other funds will support the Learn and Lead Scholarship programs,” said Irving, 25. “That would be our student mentors; they went through the program the year before.”
When he was just 23 years old, Irving became the youngest person and first black pilot to fly solo around the globe. He recently earned his doctorate in aviation from Florida Memorial University.
Irving’s year-round afterschool and summer programs will serve 150 students at 10 middle and high schools throughout South Florida. School and program sites include Miami Norland Senior High School, Carol City Senior High School, George T. Baker Aviation School and Miami Northwestern Senior High.
“We want to increase the number of minorities and women not only in aviation, but in all math and science-related career areas,” Irving said about his motivation to facilitate the programs.
The programs’ goal is to have an equal number of male and female students, Irving said. Currently, about 40 percent of the students are female.
Maeda said there may be a child in the program who is “just like Barrington: someone with that great ability to become a pilot.”
The students, Irving said, build rockets and program robotics throughout the program.
“That [programming robotics] causes our students to think more in depth about careers in aerospace,’’ Irving said. “The applications of math and science are heavy, so they must be focused.”
Maeda said that the important thing is that “the children get a lot of exposure, which leads to a great number of choices. Some day they may want to come and work with us.”
Photo: Barrington Irving