Project SkyLab is the latest expansion to the Aerospace Center for Excellence’s (ACE) 14 building campus. On January 15, 2020, ACE broke ground on Project SkyLab, a $4.6-million facility that will provide 8,000 square feet of STEM educational space, including a new state-of-the-art simulator training lab, a holographic planetarium, an Aerospace Resource Center, and even house the new ACE headquarters. The facility will provide “Hands-on STEM learning to put the fun back into the sciences and engage young men and women to find a career in the aerospace industry.” announced John “Lites” Leenhouts, President and CEO of ACE. “We are growing to create a flight path into the future of aviation and, more importantly, a superhighway for students to achieve success as we change the landscape of learning in Polk County,”

Project SkyLab Groundbreaking Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Center for Excellence

As part of Polk County’s public high schools. ACE is an academy focused on training the next generation of aircraft professionals from pilots, to airplane engineers and mechanics.
“It’s all about making sure we give our children the opportunity to excel in life, to make sure they have their dreams and we tap into what their passions are,” Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said.

Programs and facilities like ACE and Project SkyLab are vital to the sustainability of the aviation industry. Especially at a time when there is a worldwide shortage, and high demand for aircraft professionals. Thanks to generous financial support ACE was able to break ground on the facility a year ahead of schedule however, they are still seeking donors to help fund the remaining 20% of the project.

“We depend on pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers and there’s a dire shortage of those everywhere. There’s really no place in the country doing a better job than what we have right here at ACE, Sun ’n Fun and the aerospace academy,” announced Lakeland Commissioner Scott Franklin – a former Navy pilot and member of Sun ‘n Fun’s board of directors


Read the full press release on Project SkyLab’s groundbreaking here.

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