AeroStructures Technician program honors
first graduating class
Having completed 100 hours of life skills training, 120 hours of manufacturing skills and 120 hours of sheet metal training, nine individuals in the AeroStructures Technician program were recognized during a completion ceremony held Dec. 18 at the Winfield Correctional Facility.
The 15-week program, for individuals incarcerated in the Winfield Correctional Facility, was developed by the KITE (Kansas Institute for Technical Excellence) partners to meet the needs of the aircraft industry in South Central Kansas.
The partnership is made up of the Kansas Department of Corrections, Kansas Department of Commerce, The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Greenbush-Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, Cowley County Community College, and Arbor Education and Training.
Keith Lawing, the executive director of Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, welcomed the graduates and individuals in attendance. He then asked Secretary of Commerce David Kerr to speak to the graduates. Kerr mentioned that along with the Manufacturing Skills Certificate the graduates will also be recipients of the Kansas Workready Certificate.
“This will not only ensure that the graduates will get a good job and a good salary with a good Kansas company, this will allow them to give back to the work force,” Kerr said. “We think this is a perfect opportunity to duplicate this program in other parts of the state.”
Sheree Utash, the vice president of academic affairs at Cowley College gave the graduation address and participated in the certificate ceremony. During her address, Utash shared three points of advice with the graduates. Her three points were, education must go on; do the right thing; and do what you love and then do it your best.
Utash praised the work done by Dr. Susan Norton, Cowley College Dean of Corporate Education, as well as instructors Jon Pine and Tom Coleman.
“They are key, instrumental people from Cowley that have made this work,” Utash said.
Dr. Norton mentioned how proud she was of this first graduating class.
“I think they are going to be able to go out into the community and make a real impact in a positive fashion,” Dr. Norton said. “We have given them every tool possible to be a success.”
Three of the nine graduates will be going into the work force within the next three weeks and the other six will begin working in the next six months to a year. A new group of individuals began taking part in the program in January.
“I really believe if we can change the lives of some of these individuals we have done a lot for society,” Utash said.
Winfield Correctional Facility warden Emmalee Conover gave the closing remarks at the ceremony.
“So many of these guys have a hidden talent that has gone untapped,” Conover said. “I think when we see opportunities like this, and they shine, it gives them hope. I can’t think of a better way to start over than to have these opportunities. It has been a fantastic program.”
The following individuals fulfilled the requirements for completion in the Manufacturing Skills Certificate and Basic Sheetmetal AeroStructures Technician:
Glenn Bindley, Richard Brundage, Bryan Deon, Franklin Jackson, Donnie LaLonde, Richard McReynolds Jr., Aaron Scott, Konstantine Turkalo, and Isiah Walker.