K-99 Aerospace


K-99 Aerospace Synchronous Learning

Making the Impossible Possible


Gregg Cannady

December 2018



In WWII, Nazi Germany had a jet fighter, the Whizzer.  The US had no jet fighters. Our B17 and P38 fighters were 150 miles slower than the Whizzer, necessitating “a technology shift that we had no answer for.”

Lockheed Martin’s aeronautical and systems engineer Kelly Johnson had an answer, and in less than six months his team developed America’s first operational jet fighter, the P-80. Kelly and his team continued to do the impossible, most notably seen in the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird.  

 Blackbird & U2 Jets




Today, the fast pace of the design process in industries like aerospace has created a GAP in education, necessitating “a technology shift that we have no answer for.”






















Although education is slowly making progress (red), the exponential growth of industry (blue), especially in the fields of technology, are increasing the GAP between what we are teaching and what our world needs.

At first, Lockheed was too busy building B-17 and P38 fighters to adopt the solutions proposed by Kelly Johnson. They gave him a tent and a small team, and this became Skunk Works. They made the impossible possible through a streamline operation capable of creating radical new products very quickly.

Here are a few aspects of Kelly’s 14 rules for Skunk Works that can be applied to designing a new approach to learning.

  • Small Team
  • A Leader who can “see the air”. (innate understanding of the problem and proposed solutions)
  • One Strong Knowledgeable Leader
  • Leadership focused on a strong and empowered team. (this enables the team to take risks)
  • Assume it can be done
  • Do NOT add rules that aren’t there


“When you add rules artificially, you constrain the design space.“


We are in the middle of a global learning crisis.  A faster horse and better carriage are not the answer.  We need a new car! 

Paralysis by Analysis

I’ve been in so many meetings and for years have heard “We’ll do it when we are 100% sure that going with the 80% . . .”

So many educational institutions and strategies double down on failed systems. We protect our acronyms and tests rather than prioritizing an entirely new approach.  


teaching cartoon


We propose listening to students and making the impossible possible through a streamline operation capable of creating radical new products very quickly. 

Students want a radical change now. 

  • They enjoy risk and working on the unknown rather than memorizing the known.
  • They are bored with adult systems.
  • They are not afraid of technology.
  • They have great solutions that largely go unheard.

Looking ahead, Cannady said that the global learning crisis people talk about is real, and the need for action is now. He drew an analogy from his childhood. “Being raised on a farm, you feed the cattle. We didn’t talk about feeding cows. We didn’t write a book on how to feed cows, whether we should feed cows or not feed cows,” Cannady said. “When the cows were hungry, we fed the cows. These kids need us right now. It’s time to stop writing the manual on what to do ‘if.’ It’s time to just do it.”  https://blog.ed.gov/2018/08/family-relationship-opened-door-synchronous-learning-colorado-schools/

Thanks to Lockheed Martin and the leadership of systems engineer Jack Rumple, we have been working on a way to bring the aerospace into the classroom.  Our work utilizes the design process in learning through meaningful collaborations.

Students get real-time connections to SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) from the aerospace industry that inspire and ignite student passions and visions for the future. A culture of global collaboration and understanding of problems currently being solved leads to something really fun; students solving real problems.  

We know that industries have been collaborating synchronously for many years.  We have already prototyped an educational version of this in an environment we call THE SYNK.






The SYNK (a synchronous learning environment) connects teachers and students to schools, higher education and industry from all over the world.

Our approach is based upon a virtual connection that goes well beyond traditional online courses. Our approach is a two-way collaboration where students and teachers:

  • Work together in real time
  • Solve real-world problems (PBL, problem-based learning)
  • Collaborate with local business and industry

With this approach, the walls that confine traditional learning are eliminated. Students are able to collaborate in real time with infinite learning partners.  Every class is connected to anyone or anything that enables them to tackle the world’s most challenging problems.  


The aerospace industry is already spending time and money to train employees and create a STEM outreach.  These efforts can be improved through simple video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions. We have already shown that industry can synchronously connect with schools to inspire learning beyond state standards and tests. 

We are inspired by after-school clubs like FFA, 4H, TSA (Technology Student Association), Cyber patriots, BEST and First Robotics. If we consider how these organizations are structured and scheduled, we may be able to connect without asking schools to change their regular school day. 

Rural schools, individual students and homeschoolers can participate. In Colorado, many rural schools use a four-day schedule, possibly allowing for creative scheduling on the fifth day. What we learn could eventually be used to link students to high-tech agriculture and the health care industry. Networks, relationships, and solutions would grow from a grass-roots effort, inspired by real-world industries.


Connecting the Dots

Necessary roles to the success of this approach include an Educational Facilitator working with Industry Facilitator.

Educational Facilitator

  • Site Visits and Training (schools and industry)
  • Working with VTC Providers and Integration Specialist
  • Educational Support Agencies (BOCES)


Teacher Training

  • Digital Citizenship
  • R & D
  • Documentation
  • Storyline Evidence
  • Coordinate School Schedules
  • School Compliance
  • Tech Training
  • Builder of SYNKs
  • Relationships & Networks


Aerospace Facilitator

  • Aerospace Industries
  • Lockheed Martin Experts
  • STEM Programs


Industry Training

  • How To – Experiential vs Adult Presentation
  • Identify and Recruit SMEs
  • Inspiration
  • Security
  • Builds Industry SYNKs (aka, VTC)
  • Coordinates Industry Schedules
  • Relationships and Networks

We are currently developing detailed descriptions of facilitation. Our work is open source and we are happy to share what we are learning as we progress.  We suggest three phases.


Phase I: Inspiration & Understanding

 presentation photo

  • 20 minute presentation from industry on what they already do (any part)
  • Short Q & A 


Student and Facilitator Responsibilities


  • R & D (websites and anything provided in advance by industry)
  • Prepare questions
  • Embrace a culture of asking, advocating and the joy of being amazed



Phase II: Role Reversal


 student presentation

  • 20-minute presentation to industry by students to who have done something with what they learned in phase I 
  • Q & A – Industry Comments, Challenges, Validates, Guilds


Student and Facilitator Responsibilities


  • Deep dives into real problems (What if? / This is what we did. / This is what we what we want to do.
  • Experiential – utilize what we have learned from Carl Weiman (Stanford)
  • Share failures equally with success


Phase III: Agile and Unknown



From a lesson between rural and urban 7th graders on proposed High-Tech AG solutions


Solving Real Problems


  • Industry informed
  • Agile
  • Generational
  • Network
  • Dream
  • Student driven


Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.


Creative and innovative solutions will require change. 




  • Plant More Examples
    • Find Education Facilitators
    • Find Aerospace SMEs and Facilitators
    • Find Schools Ready to Take Risks
  • Share Our Stories
    • With Each Other
    • With Different Aerospace Companies
    • With More Schools
    • With the Public
  • Resist the Drag
    • Never Stop Adding Energy
    • Plan our Mission to Avoid the Radar SAMs


We hope that by starting with an industry used to moving fast, we can have a larger impact on student learning than current attempts. What we learn can then be applied to other industries who are equally searching for the innovators of the future.


Our work is open to all.  Please join us as we discover a new way to empower students to solve the world’s greatest problems.


Gregg Cannady D.M.A.

Collaboration and Concept Development | STEM School Highlands Ranch

t 303-683-STEM (7836) | e [email protected]

8773 Ridgeline Blvd, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129


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