Cantwell, Blunt Introduce Bill to Create Aerospace Policy Fellowships in Congress, Federal Agencies

Bill will connect future aviation leaders with policymakers to advance the safety of the American aerospace industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the Commerce Committee, introduced The National Air Grant Fellowship Program Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation to create one-year paid aerospace policy fellowship roles for graduate and post-graduate students in Congress, at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and in other federal agencies. 

“The Air Grant program that this bipartisan legislation creates will allow our brightest students to use their knowledge and talents to help shape the future of aerospace and aerospace policy, in the same way the Sea Grant program has done for decades in the maritime industry,” Senator Cantwell said. “With the rapid pace of change in technology, it’s important to connect our top minds with opportunities to inform policy decisions.” 

“The Air Grant program will create opportunities for aviation students to closely engage with Congress and the FAA to develop policies aimed at promoting U.S.-led growth and innovation in the aerospace sector,” said Blunt. “Missouri has several excellent aviation programs and I would be proud to see these students bringing their insights and ideas to the table as aviation technology, and the policy challenges that come with it, continue to evolve.” 

With aviation technologies evolving at a rapid pace, industry experts have stressed the importance of developing and retaining a new generation of experts versed in advanced aviation technologies. 

The National Air Grant Fellowship Program Act of 2020 authorizes $15 million a year for fiscal years 2021 to 2025 to create Air Grant fellowships for students who have expertise in any field related to aerospace, from human factors to software engineering. The program will provide fellows with valuable educational and professional experiences in the field and will help build a pool of talent conversant in emerging technologies for the FAA and Congress to draw from as they make policy in this space. As they implement the program, the FAA would also be directed to strive to ensure equal access for minority and economically disadvantaged students. 

The National Air Grant Fellowship Program Act of 2020 is modeled after the successful National Sea Grant College Program’s John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program. This program, created in 1976 and run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), matches highly qualified graduate students who have an interest in marine policy with fellowships in Congress and the executive branch. Over the program’s history, Sea Grant has placed over 1,200 Knauss fellows in government to increase technical expertise in maritime issues. 

Read the full text of Senator Cantwell and Senator Blunt’s bipartisan legislation HERE.