Austin Powerplane has landed. AirFlair winner Brandie Thompson took delivery of her groovy, pattern-mixing design Monday, Jan. 28, at WSU Tech’s south campus. University President and longtime agency friend Sheree Utash opened the ceremony by talking about how, years ago, Greteman Group’s branding of Wichita Area Technical College helped drive enrollment and the momentum that led the college to become part of Wichita State University. She thanked us for our commitment to advancing STEM initiatives, particularly those targeted to women.
A Focus on STEM
We launched AirFlair, an online, paint-a-plane game and competition, in October 2018 as our traditional holiday outreach to clients and friends. Players designed their own aircraft livery, painting the fuselage, engines, wings and tail with a multitude of colors, patterns and textures. Our annual agency giving associated with this outreach donated funds to WSU Tech’s aviation STEM initiatives.
Serendipity was certainly at play when we randomly drew Thompson’s Austin Powerplane from the more than 200 entries submitted. She is a WSU Tech professor and school alumna.
Our selection of WSU Tech for holiday giving, however, was not chance.
Colleague Ashley Bowen Cook and I attended the inaugural General Aviation Women’s Leadership Forum by the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) in January 2018. We immediately felt connection to the goal of the event: to help attract, retain and promote women in aviation as a way to make the industry bigger and better.
The experience stuck with us. It jostled us again when Dreams Soar Founder Shaesta Waiz spoke at a Wichita Aero Club event about her experience as the youngest women to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft and STEM’s role in attracting women to aviation.
Integrating science, technology, engineering and math into real-world applications helps us all soar. Adding art to the mix, Thompson’s one-of-a-kind design was hand painted by Society of Decorative Painters artist Miho Halsey. Executive Director Jennifer Arnold said the Learjet 45 model was the Wichita-based organization’s first-ever aircraft, connecting the Society to the Air Capital in a new way.
Our hope is that our simply fun AirFlair game might spark an interest that leads to so much more: a student choosing a STEM major, more women supporting women in the industry or a donation to the school training our next generation of aviation professionals.