Campus Life

National Flight Academy opens Friday at NAS Pensacola

UWF team developed NFA curriculum for STEM education

The National Flight Academy hosts its grand opening Friday at 8:30 a.m. at Naval Air Station Pensacola, and the University of West Florida (UWF) will be well represented at the gathering.

UWF led the curriculum development for the facility, located at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. The NFA is a unique setting for middle- and high-school students to live and work aboard the replica ship U.S.S. Ambition for a multi-day, aviation-inspired learning adventure.

Students will live in quarters that resemble those aboard an aircraft carrier, eat on the mess deck and work on missions that align with STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

“We are on the cutting edge of curriculum design in an immersive environment,” said Pamela Northrup, dean for the College of Professional Studies and team leader for NFA curriculum development. “Students will be engaged the moment they walk onto the Ambition. They will be presented with challenges throughout the week, from search-and-rescue missions to hurricane hunting. Through gaming and role play, participants will work together to plan, fly and debrief each mission, learning valuable teamwork and STEM skills, all in a fun, engaging activity.”

In addition to developing the curriculum for the NFA, UWF has opened its own NFA classroom, the U.S.S. Argo, in the College of Professional Studies on its main Pensacola campus. The USS Argo, an Aviation Classroom Experience (ACE) designed to better educate students in STEM disciplines, opened on March 8. 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.

Learn more about the curriculum and design for the NFA on the National Flight Academy website or at