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Spokane-published magazine launches to attract U.S. youth to aerospace careers

By Treva Lind, The Spokesman-Review
Published: February 6, 2023, 6:00am

SPOKANE — As a kid, Dean Cameron built airplane models and hung them from the ceiling of his bedroom. Such images helped him dream about a future in aerospace.

Today, Cameron wants to inspire youth in a similar way with the recent launch of a Spokane-based magazine, Let’s Go Aerospace. The quarterly publication is geared to readers ages 11 to 17 to learn about the aerospace industry, from manufacturing to space exploration.

It’s produced by Cameron’s Top Drawer Media, publisher of Northwest Aerospace News, Northwest Aerospace News Live Vlog, Art Chowder, Aerospace Vendors, and the KSPS show, “Everyday Northwest.”

At a recent aerospace conference, Cameron joined in a talk about how to encourage young people to pursue careers in the aerospace industry, which has a workforce shortage. Cameron was asked if an education magazine might grab students’ attention.

“I remember as a kid getting Highlights magazine,” Cameron said. “I thought, why don’t we duplicate a model that’s been successful in the past?

“Basically, Let’s Go Aerospace is a fun middle-school-age-oriented magazine. We inspire the curiosity. We try to educate them with some industry factoids and then just help them explore potential careers or interest in the aerospace industry.”

The magazine offers quizzes, QR codes linked to videos and articles about young people and others exploring science, flight, manufacturing and space. One article in the first issue was written by a 12-year-old.

The magazine is being sold in more than 400 retail locations across the U.S. and Canada, mostly in bookstores and some grocery stores. Cameron said it will be available through school districts and membership-based organizations with grant funding to grow industry jobs.

Although the magazine has a national distribution, at least two stories in the first issue have a regional reach. One is on students at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy launching a satellite through a NASA program, and another features the local Minds-i curriculum that uses robotic and drone learning.

The current magazine’s QR codes include one linking to a video of an airplane being made at Boeing. Another goes to footage of computerized numerical control machining to turn aluminum into a panther image. Large posters will be included. An international aerospace artist created the current poster of a SR-71 Blackbird, which Cameron hopes kids will put on their bedroom walls.

“We see the news about the new urban drone technology, unmanned taxis, and all of those things are great news stories,” Cameron said. “But it’s the 12-year-old today who in 10 years is going to mature that industry, so we better start talking to the 12-year-olds now and inspire them to consider a career in aerospace.

“We’re about ready to see a transition in the aerospace industry, unlike anything since the industry began. There are new airframes, new fuel technology, the electrification of aircraft. There is the unmanned nature of aircraft. All of these things are revolutionizing the industry, but it’s going to be that 12-year-old today who becomes the engineer or the machine shop worker.”

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Cameron worked in the industry for 30 years and was a national sales manager for a local aerospace manufacturing company. He left six years ago to create Top Drawer Media.

A region of the I-90 corridor — along Montana, Idaho and Washington — ranks as having the fifth largest aerospace cluster of companies nationwide, Cameron said. Before Boeing had issues with the 737 MAX, and even prior to the 2020 pandemic, the industry grappled with widespread loss of older workers retiring, he said, and they weren’t being replaced by enough younger people.

“Our goal is to get this magazine into the hands of as many young people as possible across the U.S.”

An annual subscription is $34.95, available at the website, www.letsgoaerospace.com.