With the help of $2 billion in federal job training grants community colleges are helping students earn industry-recognized credentials that will show they’re ready for work, reports Community College Times.
Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) in Kansas is the leader of a consortium that will use its $14.9-million grant to develop industry credentials for the aviation industry. WATC and its partners — Tulsa Community College (Oklahoma), Ivy Tech Community College (Indiana), Guilford Technical Community College (North Carolina) and Edmonds Community College (Washington)—are all located near aviation manufacturing facilities, said Sheree Utash, vice president for academic affairs at WATC. The Wichita area, for example, has Spirit AeroSystems, Bombardier Learjet, Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft plants nearby.
Aviation industry professionals will help develop the curriculum, which will be used by all colleges in the consortium.
The consortium will develop six stackable aviation credentials: sheet metal assembly, composite repair, computer numerical control (machining), electrical assembly, quality assurance and health and safety. The colleges will also create content for online courses and lab projects and implement transfer and articulation agreements.
Other community colleges are using federal grants to fund training in high-tech manufacturing. Harper College in Illinois is leading a statewide network that will create a curriculum leading to stackable, portable certificates in advanced manufacturing. Students will specialize in mechatronics/automation, numerical controls, metal fabrication and supply chain management/logistics.
“In the next two to five years this industry will explode,” said instructor/ consultant Dennis Lott. “There are so many opportunities that will be available, there will be more positions than pilots and technicians to fill them.”
Hinds will expand its pilot training program to include controlling unmanned vehicles and making repairs and upgrades.
Sean Meacham, 19, is an aviation student at HCC, as well as a crew chief for the Air Guard. Looking toward a career in the Air Force, he is taking the traditional pilot classes at HCC as well as the UAV classes this coming semester. He said he was interested in radio-controlled planes before he came to college, and still works with the five he has at home.
“I’m looking at this to be a backup,” he said. “So if something ever happens and I can no longer fly commercially or for the military, I have the knowledge I need to fly UAVs for a contractor. There’s no telling what all will be available in the future.”
Hinds’ aviation program has a simulator that simulates a remote-control airplane. Students will start with flying small radio-controlled aircraft inside a hangar, then work their way up to larger aircraft.
Phoenix-area students can learn to fly — and start aviation careers while completing high school, reports Community College Week. Students can earn private pilot’s licenses through the East Valley Institute of Technology’s aviation program. Chandler-Gilbert Community College offers ground school. Students take a college-level aviation class that covers airspace, weather, aerodynamics, flight control systems, flight physiology and rules and regulations.
While in training, the teens earn their student pilot’s certificates. Before they receive their private pilot’s licenses, students complete a written and practical exam.
The students earn high school elective credit for the class, as well as college credit. If they stay on target, those credits transfer to the University of North Dakota.
Students pay about $9,500 for the private pilot’s training.