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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student


Aviation program to take flight at Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech Community College is partaking in a national effort designed to address the dwindling number of skilled workers in the aviation industry, which is supposed to decline by 40 percent by 2014. Ivy Tech specifically its campuses in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, is one of five colleges to receive the U.S. Department of Labor grant and will create a 12-16 week program to train workers in the aviation field.

“Ivy Tech was selected by a national group to apply for the grant,” National Aviation Consortium Project Coordinator Christine Garrett said. “Each college prepared information for the grant application for programs to be provided at each school.”

The National Aviation Consortium group has targeted 2,505 people to participate, with five colleges in the corsortium, they hope to average at least 501 per school.

The U.S. aviation and aerospace industry is threatened with an impending shortage of skilled workers resulting in a lack of competitiveness in the field according to a National Aviation Consortium press release. The National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute estimates the aviation industry will lose nearly 40 percent of its employees by 2014.

“Also, 82 percent of manufacturers say that they can’t find the skilled workers that they need,” Garrett said. “Nearly 60,000 jobs go unfilled said Jennifer McNelly, President of the Manufacturing Institute.”

The Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry has recommended that the nation immediately work towards reversing the decline of workers, and that they promote the growth of a trained U.S. aviation and aerospace workforce. All these efforts are to avoid a threat to national security and U.S. capability as a world leader according to the press release.

The National Aviation Consortium is a partnership designed to address the gap of skilled workers in aviation industry. With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, NAC has partnered with community colleges in Kansas, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington. They chose these colleges in the hopes of providing manufacturers with well-trained, entry-level workers who can think critically and immediately enter the workplace.

“The Manufacturing Institute reports that although 86 percent of respondents say that America’s manufacturing base is important or very important to their standards of living, only 33 percent of the same respondents say that they would encourage their children to go into manufacturing,” Garrett said.

During the 12 to 16 week program, participating students will earn nationally portable, industry-driven certifications including the National Career Readiness Certification, the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council Certification, which is essentially a health, safety and quality certificate, and an aviation technical credential.

“Everyone who completes the program will get a certificate in basic skills, basic blueprint reading, and other important manufacturing focal points,” Garrett said. “The participants will then go into the area of their speciality, which, initially at least, will consist of either sheet metal or electrical assembly.”

The sheet metal assembly certificate will focus on learning how to use the tools associated with sheet metal. The students will have to complete a number of lab projects using rivets and guns and other specialized tools.

“One of the key skills taught is how to precisely build a part based only upon blueprints,” Garrett said. “This will give our students the ability to work on sheet metal in either manufacturing or repair station settings.”

The electrical assembly certificate will focus on learning how to use the tools associated with aviation electronics. They will learn the skills that will allow them to be effective in installing wiring for new aircraft or aircraft modifications.

The goal of the program is for students to obtain employment working with aviation related businesses which can include airlines as well as Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MROs), Fixed Based Operators (FBO), manufacturers providing products for aviation businesses.

“Examples can be as sheet metal technicians or system technicians for employers rebuilding aircraft,” Garrett said.

This program is working on providing careers for students participating in the program as well as bridging the gap in the aviation industry.

Garrett said that the meetings regarding this program were very much supported by the community and that employers are excited about the program.

“Employers are willing to assist in making it successful,” Garrett said.

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