Hundreds of organizations in the aerospace industry are ready to give you money—to train to fly, to learn their trades, to work for them as apprentices, or to study their subjects in school. Here is your Air & Space/NEXT guide to these sources. Know a resource we could add? Contact us at editors@si.edu.

The Big Idea Challenge
College-level students can submit new ideas to the Big Idea Challenge for building solar-powered tugs in space, including modifying launch packages, robotic assembly, and solar panel design. Run by the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia, the competition offers winning teams internships at NASA Langley Research Center and the cost to attend an annual Big Idea forum.


Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL)
In an annual competition known as RASC-AL, college-level teams can submit design ideas to help NASA astronauts work more effectively in microgravity. Themes include an exercise suite for long-duration missions in space, an airlock to help connect the modules in a deep space habitat, and systems to deliver supplies. The top two teams win a travel stipend to present their concept at an aerospace conference such as the annual meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).  


The Optimus Prime Spinoff
Winners of this NASA award inspired by the Transformer character named Optimus Prime are invited to meet Peter Cullen, the actor who gave his voice to the film, and enjoy a behind-the-scenes workshop at the NASA Goddard facility in Maryland. Applicants from grades 9-12 must design a multimedia poster using a tool called Glogster to suggest a spinoff product based on NASA technologies.


NASA Swarmathon
Students from Minority Serving Institutions who are interested in robotics and space exploration can enter the annual NASA Swarmathon, coding algorithms that might be used on a Mars mission one day. Students can enter the physical competition by building a “Swarmie” robotic rover that can collect objects (like Mars rocks), or the virtual competition by programming a digital rover to operate in a simulator. Whichever team collects the most ‘rocks,’ gets cash prizes up to $5,000.


Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge
Each February the Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge in Mesa, Arizona, challenges grade school and junior high students to design models and give presentations for a sustainable habitat on a moon within the solar system. The winning team receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and the next Fiesta Bowl, a major collegiate football event held in Arizona, where the team will be honored on the field.


Spaceport America Cup
This June 20-24, 2017 in New Mexico, more than 110 teams from 11 countries are expected to launch rockets to altitudes up to 30,000 feet to compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes. The Spaceport America Cup is held at the 18,000-acre commercial spaceport (where Virgin Galactic is headquartered), in cooperation with the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association. In addition to the main competition, individual sponsors offer incentives such as a $1,000 prize from Space Dynamics Laboratory for launching an 8.8-pound recoverable payload.


Aviation Systems Engineering Company
The ASEC supports testing and engineering for U.S. Navy aircraft, both piloted and drone, and needs an intern in Lexington Park, Maryland, with at least one year of college study. The junior engineering intern will help develop a prototype aircraft in ASEC’s commercial drone department, learning about coding as well as 3-D manufacturing. Applicants need to pass an investigation for access to Secret classified information.


Kingdom Air Corps
A ministry based on a ranch in Sutton, Alaska, hires interns for approximately two months between May and September. Interns can work on ratings and certificate training, and gain experience in mountain and bush flying with the mission’s fleet of 20 single-engine aircraft.


Walmart Corporate Aviation Experience
Retailer Walmart has its own flight department and offers four one-week-long internships in June and August at its base in Rogers, Arkansas. Interns are assigned mentors to learn flight planning, how to conduct a preflight check on an aircraft, and experience a full motion flight simulator. Applicants must have completed at least 90 college credit hours and have an FAA commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multi-engine ratings.


Omni Air International
Omni hires summer interns in Tulsa, Oklahoma to help comply with a variety of safety and regulatory standards in its charter flight business. Interns in flight operations may configure electronic flight bags for Omni pilots, and help conduct audits. Interns in safety and security not only help to ensure that procedures are followed but also monitor world events to keep staff informed of the latest developments in security. Applicants must be enrolled full time at the university level with a 3.0 GPA.