I recently joined The Ninety-Nines Inc. — an international organization of licensed women pilots. Whether I was scrolling through the email forum or the website, I’m not sure, but I stumbled across something titled “Aviation for STEM.”

Just like people who aren’t technically inclined dismiss the mission critical industry, people who don’t like flying would never consider a career in aviation.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen the connection between the two industries — I think about it every time I check the weather service or make a call on the radio. But, this led me down a rabbit holes of sorts.

I decided to just type in “aviation for STEM” in the Google search bar. Here’s a few examples of what came up.


This link belongs to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Click on it, and you’ll find the FAA’s answer to this question: STEM + students = success in aviation. You’ll find other information, too, including some compelling statistics and a list of educational opportunities.

Aviation & Space Education (AVSED)

If you clicked on the first linked already, then you won’t be surprised to learn that this one also belong to the FAA. The STEM AVSED Program allows the FAA to conduct outreach to inspire youth from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in the aerospace industry.

Click on this link, and you’ll find the FAA’s mission statement for the program along with several resources for students, educators, and parents. In addition to a “STEM Education” video and contact information, you’ll also find links to explore each STEM AVSED Program — Ace Academies, Airport Design Challenge, Adopt-A-School, and Outreach Representatives — in further detail.

What does this mean?

Well, I’m no psychologist, but I do talk a lot. And, in my conversations with people, I’ve found that, most of the time, when someone is afraid of something, they are seemingly mesmerized by it. And, there are quite a few people who are afraid of flying, even when someone else is piloting the airplane. So, how cool would it be if we could tap into that demographic and give them the opportunity to be involved in something in a way they never thought possible?

When I tell people I’m the editor for Mission Critical magazine, the response is always the same: “What’s that?” They’re not asking what a magazine is, though. They don’t know what “mission critical” is. I’m doing my best to change that every time the conversation pops up by listing everything I can — data centers, hospitals, research labs, transportation, utilities, etc. — but I am just one person.

If we want to raise awareness of the mission critical industry, then we need to do a better job of defining what mission critical means, and we need to make sure other people recognize that term and understand it. Once they know what it is, they will find their own way to the industry, just like the rest of us have.

We saw how quickly the nation adopted the phrase, “essential workers,” during the onset of COVID-19. It’s about time we tell them what mission critical is, don’t you think?