For this week’s episode of Community Conversations our host ST Billingsley spoke with Karl Minter from the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.
Q: So tell me about your organization and what it’s about.
A: Okay so, OBAP, which is the moniker for Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. We’ve been in the community across the nation for about forty years. In fact, this is our fortieth year. And we try to do is encourage young people to get interested in careers in aerospace. Mechanics, pilots, operators, business folks.
There are so many careers within the umbrella of aerospace that young people need to know about, that the information is not getting out there as effectively to make them in a position to make good decisions in terms of careers, so we try to help out. We try to bridge that gap, connect the dots.
Q: So how does that work with Prince William County, as far as your organization?
A: We’ve been leveraging some relationships the last seventeen years here in Prince William. We run what’s called an Aviation Career Education camp, and we collaborate with other organizations such as NOVA, and we run it right out of the NOVA Manassas campus.
We have an ACE camp that’s starting up in July, it’s going to run from the 11th to the 26nd of July. And it’s open to students who are 13 to 18 years old. And the goal is to get them interested in careers in the engineering, the science, the technology, mathematics, all of that under the umbrella of aerospace. They can go to our website, look on board for an application, we do have some slots that are still open and available for.
The goal is also to get—to get young people energized about the possibilities of what they can do as a career.
Q: So your organization is much bigger than Prince William.
A: It’s a national organization, so tell me a little bit about what you do nationally, whether it be different cities, and also how long you’ve been doing this for. Okay, so we have been in the non-profit world for forty years. In fact, this is our fortieth year. And we are about six thousand members strong nationwide, and we all are volunteers.
So I have a regular day job, as everybody else within the organization. I’m a pilot for United Airlines. But part of my responsibility as a responsible adult, is to give back from the blessings I’ve been given. So we go out. We talk in communities, we talk with young people, we collaborate with organizations, so that we can put on programs nationwide to allow young people to get into the aerospace career field.
Our charter, or mission, is to inspire young people, educate young people, to provide opportunities for them to get into the career fields.
Q: And with Manassas airport, are there any businesses, or do you work with the national airport organization itself or?
A: We sure do. For instance, here in the local Prince William County area, not only are we doing a two-week ACE camp on campus at NOVA in Manassas, but we work with Dulles Aviation out of Manassas Airport, we work with the FAA over at the tower there at Dulles, and at the tower over at Manassas Airport. We work with United Airlines, we work with other organizations like the National Coalition of Black Federal Aviation Employees, to bring students together so they can visit, for instance—this year’s camp that’s going to run the 11th through the 26nd of July.
We’re going to visit Andrews Air Force Base, we’re going to visits the FAA facility all the way over in Bent Hill, we’re going to go up to NASA over in Goddard Space Center. We’re gonna go to Mitre Corporation and talk there. So the students are going to be doing a little different than what we were doing last year. We’re going to do some work on the campus in terms of classroom work, and then we’re going to collaborate and go out and do field work, by going and visiting companies to show how they link together: the classroom and the actual job. It’s a pretty interesting, and a pretty exciting opportunity.
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