A busy first semester!

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swartkops 2Swartkops 1
SANSA 1 necsa 2The AERLA cadets have been busy this first semester (January-June 2015). They have been exposed to material on English, algebra, astronomy, modern history, military science, environmental science and the science of flight. They have gone on numerous field trips to the SAAF Museum/Paramount Group Air Show at Swartkops AFB (going up in a C-130), to the Pelindaba Nuclear Facility run by the National Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), to South Africa’s National Space Agency (SANSA)’s Space Operations Centre and to Wonderboom Airport to see how a modern airport operates.

Get some rest cadets because semester two means engineering, IT, and French along with your core subjects!

Is your son or daughter truly ready for university?

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Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 6.54.52 PMFigures released by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training in 2013 put the graduation rate at 15 percent among undergraduate students in our 23 public universities. Even the students with multiple distinctions in matric/grade 12 battle to succeed in university. What is going on here?

Most students fail to grasp that you are officially on your own once you enter the university world. You are responsible for everything. You have to declare a major and pick your classes, most likely not knowing the post university career options and how prevalent they are. Then there are the smaller, but not less important details like getting your assignment in on time. Mom, dad and/or teacher are not there applying pressure, reminding and telling you what to do. In fact, the professor will be very pleased if you don’t turn in your assignment because this means one less paper to mark. All of this requires self-discipline, organisation and time management. Did you get this while studying matric?

Being a university student means being more independent and doing whatever you want to do, but they must be prepared to accept responsibility for their actions. It sounds simple, however, when surrounded by temptations and distractions it becomes very easy to neglect academic demands and other beneficial opportunities available on campus.

Then of course you have the academic side associated with university, and yes it is much more difficult compared to high school. This is combined with less interaction with the teacher. Classes also typically require several hours of work each week or even per night in order to complete assignments. What this means is study and research skills and the ability to motivate yourself are critical to student success.

If you worry that your son or daughter might be one of the students falling into the 85% failure category, enroll them in AERLA’s bridging course today!

The AERLA bridging course is designed for recent matriciants/high school graduates to improve their academic/life skills and provide knowledge in key subject areas while also giving insight into the expectations of university study and applicable industries.

To reinforce what is taught in the classroom, students participate in many outside activities such as field trips to nearby universities, aerospace facilities and industries, civilian airports and other related areas.

Full summary of the AERLA bridging course can be downloaded by clicking here (pdf format): AERLA Bridging Course


AERLA is hiring!

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Screen shot 2015-03-23 at 8.42.16 AMAre you an exceptional teacher who wants to join one of the best teams in the country? AERLA has the following vacancies for the 2015-16 school year starting in August:

1)  English/Social Studies Teacher (Must live on campus, housing/meals provided)

2) Robotics/IT Teacher (part time)

Ideal candidate for both positions will have masters degree and 3-5 years teaching experience. Please send your CV/resume and cover letter to hr@aerospaceleadershipacademy.com

AERLA gaining recognition, expanding partnerships



It has been a busy time at AERLA over the past few weeks and months. AERLA staff like Dr Scott Firsing have been busy conducting media interviews on the Academy, our cadets have received visitors from the United States Embassy in Pretoria, the South African Air Force Association and others, and partnerships have expanded. This includes:

– Trip to Wonderboom Airport

– Our Open Day with special guest speakers Catherine Hill Herdon and SAAF’s Col Rama Iyer (summary by Defenceweb can be found here: http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38109:open-day-at-aerospace-leadership-academy&catid=32:military-art-a-science&Itemid=112)

– AERLA’s Dr Scott Firsing speaking to 702’s Redi Tlhabi (
http://www.pod702.co.za/podcast/bestofredi/20150112BESTREDIA.mp3), expressing his educational views to the Independent Education Magazine (http://www.isasa.org/independent-education-magazine-autumn-2015/) and giving a guest lecture at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, USA.

– Visit to the CSIR in Pretoria

– Another press release about our relationship with Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, USA (http://news.erau.edu/top-news/worldwide-to-offer-online-dual-enrollment-to-high-school-students-throughout-the-world).


For full details and more photos, please visit AERLA’s facebook page


Special guest speakers at AERLA open day, 21 Feb

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Screen shot 2015-02-10 at 12.54.11 PMAERLA is proud to announce we have two special guest speakers that will be giving remarks at our open day on Saturday 21 February. The first is Catherine Hill-Herdon, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the United States Embassy in Pretoria. The second is Col Rama Iyer from the South African Air Force.

The speaking portion of the open day begins at 1030am. To reserve your seat, please email scott.firsing@aerospaceleadershipacademy.com. col iyer

Dr Liam Pedersen joins AERLA Advisory Board

Dr Liam Pederson

Dr Liam PedersonLiam, born in Cape Town, and is probably best known for being a robotics researcher at NASA Ames Research Center, building intelligent robot systems to look for life on Mars and thinking about the future of space exploration. Today, Liam is leading Nissan’s autonomous vehicle research program in California and is glad to report that, as of last month, Nissan and NASA have agreed to work jointly on the autonomous cars.

Liam spent most of his childhood overseas. Upon returning to South Africa he had to flee to Swaziland to avoid conscription and get more education, before being allowed back into the United States as a Fulbright Scholar.

Liam received B.Sc. and B.Sc. Honours degrees from Rhodes University in South Africa, an M.S.E.E. at George Washington University and a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2001. He has worked extensively with rovers and planetary scientists in the Atacama Desert, the Canadian arctic, and Antarctica. He built the system onboard CMU’s Nomad robot that allowed it to autonomously identify meteorites in Antarctica in January 2000.

AERLA launches mentor program


lumkaAERLA has launched its own mentorship program to assist our cadets in reaching their goals and dreams. These relationships between mentor and cadet are vital throughout the cadets time at AERLA, particularly during their grade 12 semester long project.

AERLA’s first two mentors are Ms Lumka Mshibi, pictured left, and Dr Rene Heise.

Ms Lumka Msibi- Ms Msibi, 24 years old from Denel Spaceteq. She has an Engineering degree from the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand, and completed an internship at Denel Dynamics.

Ms Msibi has always been and is actively involved in various outreach, awareness, and mentorship programs for Aerospace and STEM etc, and in the past has assisted 1st year students (as a first year orientation mentor at the University of the Witwatersrand Academic Development Unit) with bridging the gap between matric and university.

More recently, Ms Msibi recently won 1st prize in the IAF Poster Competition with her poster and Technical Paper titled “53rd South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) and Denel Spaceteq Schools Outreach Program,” in the Category of Space Education and Outreach Symposium at the 65th International Astronautics Conference in Toronto Canada. Within this category, there were 9 finalists that were selected out of 500 submissions. Her poster, which was accompanied by a Technical Paper, was designed out of the Technical Work she had done during the visit to Antarctica – upgrade of the South African Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (Super DARN) which is a South African Installation in the Antarctica used to monitor the dynamic Space Weather, used to as an early warning system for Satellites, when the Space Weather become adverse (Solar Activity increases to dangerous levels for Satellites).

Dr Rene Heise- Dr Heise grew up and went to school in Windhoek, Namibia. He started his studies in Mechanical Engineering in 1996, and promptly stayed on to start his Masters degree. Building on work that he did in the undergraduate studies, his PhD thesis involved the study of turbo-machinery and helicopter aerodynamics.

Dr Heise’s first job was as Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Here he worked on the development of UAVs, weapons release clearance and also received training in test flight engineering by attending the Operational Test and Evaluation course of the SAAF. After 7 years in that post he moved on to Rheinmetall Denel Munition at the end of 2012 to work as Aerodynamicist / External Ballistician and System Engineer.

As part-time / hobby he also continues to develop UAVs for specialist applications.

AERLA Open Day, 21 February 2015

AERLA Open Day 2015

AERLA Open Day 2015You are invited to AERLA’s first open day of 2015 taking place on Saturday 21 February between 0900 and 1500 hrs.

Come speak to our very first group of cadets and our outstanding teachers. You can also tour the campus, climb our mountain or swim a couple of laps.

Please RSVP to scott.firsing@aerospaceleadershipacademy.com by 17 February 2015.

New AERLA Cadets arrive on campus


IMG_2933 IMG_2926The 19th of January 2015 was a special day with 16 exceptional young men and women arriving at AERLA to begin their schooling. They might be in different grades ranging from 8-11, but they all have a passion for the topics AERLA specializes in.

Let the journey begin!

“Future High Flyers Contest”, four full scholarships to be awarded

Future High Flyers

Future High FlyersAre you a future high flyer?

AERLA, as part of our community engagement program and our strong desire to make a real difference in our home, is looking for the best and most passionate young South Africans who want a huge head start in life by attending a world class institution and receiving the best education.

AERLA through our “Future High Flyer” Contest will be awarding four full scholarships to the value of R600k for the 2015 academic year.


In a 1000 words maximum typed essay, tell us whey you want to study at a military/aerospace focused high school.

Criteria for entry

– Must be a South African citizen

– Must be entering grade 9 or 10

– Must have English and Math marks higher than 75%

– Must be passionate about aerospace, engineering or the military

– Must be able to start at AERLA on 19 January 2015 if awarded scholarship

How to Apply

Please email your name, contact details, essay and copies of your latest school transcripts to contest@aerospaceleadershipacademy.com by 31 December. There will be an interview upon entry. Winners to be announced on 06 January 2015.