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Challenger Learning Center inducted into Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame

May 31, 2017

The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame recently added Heartland’s Challenger Learning Center (CLC) to their list of honored members. The CLC was officially inducted and given the Spirit of Flight award at a banquet held by the organization on May 25, 2017 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign.

The induction and award recognize the CLC’s achievements as well as their contributions to aviation, space flight and scientific pursuits.

About the CLC

Challenger Learning Centers were established in the aftermath of the 1986 Challenger accident to honor the crew’s educational mission. Visitors experience space-themed simulations that cultivate skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork.

Students at the Challenger Learning Center

As one of 45 centers throughout the world, the CLC came to Bloomington-Normal on December 17, 2003 and was part of the Prairie Aviation Museum. It moved to Heartland Community College in 2010 where it currently serves 5,000 K-12 students a year and offers public outreach.


Specific accomplishments outlined in the CLC’s hall of fame recognition include increases in numerous initiatives such as the amount of missions flown and number of teachers trained.

It also highlights alumni like Sean Robinson who were inspired by the center to work in the aerospace industry. After visiting Heartland’s CLC in eighth grade, Robinson became interested in orbital mechanics, asteroid rendezvous and human spaceflight. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois and currently works as a manufacturing engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Team Effort

Stacey Shrewsbury, who serves as the lead flight director for the CLC at Heartland, says the induction and Spirit of Flight award acknowledge the work of several individuals. “It’s a group award that recognizes the vision of the Prairie Aviation Museum to bring the CLC to the community and the hard work of the people at Heartland Community College who make the CLC a valuable resource on a daily basis. Because of their dedication, we are able to grow and impact thousands of students each year.”

Learn More

Heartland's Challenger Learning Center offers year-round experiences for K-12 students, college and university programs and various social missions for the public.

Written by: Becky Gropp