For those who want to fly commercial planes, Rey's course saves them money and time because college-level materials are part of the curriculum.
Both Birdsall and Rey have found that flight simulation has also helped to attract girls to STEM subjects.
"One of the things that's been very difficult is to get girls involved in STEM," Birdsall says. "They have been very interested in driving the simulator—it's a great draw."
Female students of Rey's who weren't performing well in other areas have had a chance to shine when it comes to flight simulation.
"They can sometimes fly with a shorter instruction time and more skill than the guys," Rey says. In his experience, the girls are naturally better at the multi-tasking involved in flying.
At the end of the day, it's about getting the kids energized to learn, Birdsall points out.
"Sometimes if you have one thing that you are excited about, it makes you go to school," Birdsall says. "I want to go to school today because I'm going to get to fly."
Eliza Krigman is a technology writer based in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at Eliza@elizakrigman.net.