Clinton Magazine Summer 2022 | Page 6

reaching new heights

“ The level of accuracy that he put into that project absolutely blew my mind .”

- Marlana Nass , Clinton Municipal Airport manager

Aviation first caught Elijah ’ s attention two years earlier when he was scrolling through YouTube one day , just as he was beginning third-grade at Clinton ' s Whittier Elementary School . Among the videos he was watching about cars was a random video on airplanes that he decided to watch , followed by many more .
The millions of different kinds of planes that can go anywhere in the world fascinated him .
“ Elijah ’ s very curious and inquisitive ,” Craft ’ s father , Clintons City Engineer Jason Craft says . “ He ’ s a pretty deep thinker .”
A kid with stunning intelligence , Elijah wants to learn about the things he loves . He couldn ’ t wait to get started , then , when his father received an online link from Marlana Nass , the manager of Clinton Municipal Airport , that led to information about the FAA Airport Design Challenge .
The Challenge is an eight-week-long competition organized and sponsored by the FAA ’ s STEM AVSED program . This program focuses on science , technology , engineering and math in collaboration with aviation and space education for the purpose of preparing and inspiring the next aviation and aerospace industry professionals .
Any student , from kindergarteners to high school seniors , can enter and participate in the Challenge , either individually or in a team with up to five members . Certificates are provided for those in kindergarten through sixth grade and , separately , for those in grades seven through 12 .
The competition is additionally broken down into the primary airport and non-primary airport concentrations of each of the age groups . With the guidance of FAA aerospace and engineering experts , competitors use the video game Minecraft to design virtual airports based on those that exist in reality .
Progress checks , weekly testing and instructional modules accompany the design process , which cover topics including airport layouts , pavement and lighting , and structures and innovative growth , reinforcing gained knowledge and skills with the added opportunity to apply them to professional simulations .
Elijah ’ s simulation of Clinton Municipal Airport thoroughly impressed Nass .
“ The level of accuracy that he put into that project absolutely blew my mind , she says .
Prior to the start of the Design Challenge , Nass gave
6 Clinton Magazine Summer 2022