National Flight Academy classroom opens at UWF

University of West Florida |

USS Argo is first Aviation Classroom Experience at a university in the U.S.

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The USS Argo, an Aviation Classroom Experience (ACE) designed to better educate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, opened officially today at the University of West Florida (UWF). UWF is the first higher education facility to be equipped with one of these classrooms, as well as a member of the first Center of Inspiration in the United States.

The Center of Inspiration is a partnership with the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and Escambia and Santa Rosa County school districts to better serve Northwest Florida by transforming STEM education for students.

“The USS Argo provides an immersive, game-based learning opportunity for students,” said Pam Northrup, dean of the UWF College of Professional Studies under which the classroom is housed. “Using a real-world scenario, students use critical thinking and decision-making skills in a variety of STEM disciplines. By making STEM fun and using real-world application, we hope to spark interest in STEM fields for students at a young age, as well as provide new ways to teach science and math to aspiring teachers.”

The classroom is part of the National Flight Academy (NFA), a subsidiary of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, is designed to address the serious concerns of declining STEM skills and standards in the U.S., and UWF took the lead in developing curriculum not only for the USS Argo, but the entire National Flight Academy.

Since it is based at UWF, a regional university, the USS Argo is a Super ACE that can provide teacher development and training and host corporate events, in addition to providing educational experiences for students. Further, this is where localized mission development takes place in concert with the NFA Academic Advisory Board and the NFA Serious Game Development Studio.

“UWF has a longstanding partnership through which we collaborate on the entire suite of National Flight Academy products,” said Dave Dawson, director of the Department of Applied Science, Technology and Administration. “We have been involved in several contracts with the NFA to assist in the development of curriculum assessment and evaluation and teacher training.”

“Faculty and staff at UWF COPS build learning components for STEM education into the game-based experience,” said Northrup. “Instead of practicing math and science on paper in a classroom, students are given real-world scenarios that require the use of science or math skills, such as physics.”

The USS Argo is located in Building 77, Room 153. Learn more about the USS Argo online at or contact Preston Obray at 850-474-2266 or

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