GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (ABC 4)- West Michigan Aviation Academy (WMAA) is a tuition-free charter school in Grand Rapids that provides active, hands-on, skill-based learning and prepares students for high-demand fields in the real world. The curriculum is focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) along with aviation. The school currently enrolls over 600 students from grades 9-12 and aims to instill students with a passion for lifelong learning.

“It’s thrilling to me because of what’s happening in kids’ lives. Our young people are just extraordinary, and they’re going on to do extraordinary things,” Dick DeVos, Founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, said. “We’ve had an enormous variety of kids who have gone on to be successful, but most importantly, to be contributors to our society,” he added.

WMAA is located on the campus of the Gerald. R. Ford International Airport and utilizes flight simulators, engineering, and computer science courses, along with mentoring from local industry experts at companies like Delta Air Lines and Gulfstream, to teach students about piloting, designing and problem-solving within the aviation industry.

Something unique about the academy is that it is one of the few select high schools in the country where students can earn a private pilot license as part of their high school curriculum. WMAA is also the first institution with a high school-level biomedical engineering class in the United States.

“They want to be here. They want to learn. They want to be pushed, and they want to take the next step, which is awesome as a teacher to be able to provide that for them.” Katie VandeCappelle, Biomedical Engineering Program Instructor, said.

WMAA offers many opportunities to students by way of internships with corporate partners, offering college credits to students who successfully complete engineering and aviation courses, and bringing in students for “Experience Days” where partners give the students exposure to their campuses and explore areas of interest.

WMAA knows that students can thrive through progressive and cutting-edge programs, advanced engineering curriculums and caring teaching staff. The institution also seeks to challenge students to be self-motivated, critical thinkers, effective collaborators and creative innovators while at their academy. Learn more about the academy here:

Sponsored by the DeVos Family Foundation