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Guinness record-setting pilot, Barrington Irving, bringing ‘Flying Classroom’ to JSU

Capt. Barrington Irving, creator of the STEM education tool the "Flying Classroom" became the first and youngest African-American pilot to fly around the world solo at the age of 23. During a 97-day journey, he flew 30,000 miles despite encountering multifarious conditions of snow, ice, sand, and thunderstorms. (Photo source: Flying Classroom website)

Capt. Barrington Irving, creator of the STEM education tool the “Flying Classroom,” became the first and youngest African-American pilot to fly around the world solo at the age of 23. During a 97-day journey, he flew 30,000 miles despite encountering multifarious conditions of snow, ice, sand, and thunderstorms. (Photo source: Flying Classroom website)

Capt. Barrington Irving and his “Flying Classroom” will be in the auditorium of Jackson State University’s College of Science Engineering and Technology at 9 a.m. Friday, June 8, courtesy of Verizon Innovative Learning Minority Male Progam.

While at JSU, Irving and his team of STEM education professionals will collaborate with over 150 students, grades 6-8, on projects that focus on autonomous engineering, drone technology and biomedical/biosciences and 3D printing.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, but raised in Miami, Irving became the first and youngest African-American unaccompanied pilot to fly around the world at the age of 23. During a 97-day journey, he flew 30,000 miles despite encountering perilous conditions of snow, ice, sand, and thunderstorms.

In 2005, he founded the Miami-based nonprofit organization Experience Aviation to introduce young people to career opportunities in aviation and STEM-related fields. Irving challenged his students to build an experimental aircraft in just 10 weeks. Upon completion, the pilot took the plane on its first flight.

In September 2014, Irving flew to Australia and 12 countries in Asia, Indonesia and North America and executed 16 ground, air and sea expeditions exploring real-life applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including history, geography, social studies and language arts.

The pilot then combined his travels into lessons that educators can access online in the “Flying Classroom.” Teachers can use Irving’s expeditions as a STEM integration instructive tool and investigate current global challenges aligned to national and state standards.

Through a grant from Verizon, JSU is one of four leading HBCU’s participating in the company’s Minority Male Makers Program, which helps to instruct male students of color in STEM disciplines five days per week, eight hours per day throughout the summer.

“Capt. Barrington Irving and the ‘Flying Classroom’ provides this exceptional group of young men exposure to the possibilities of their future,” said Dr. Tamika R. Bradley, JSU interim associate dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

Bradley, who is also principal investigator of the grant, said she is excited that students will gain first-hand innovative STEM experience led by a “phenomenal pilot who has set world records, tackled barriers, achieved success and looks like them.”

Irving and his achievements have been recognized by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He has also been featured in major publications including the New York Times, Miami Herald and National Geographic. Additionally, he has hosted TEDx talks in Jamaica, Miami and Bermuda.