January 22, 2004
Cowley expands aviation program to Wichita; classes begin Jan. 26
Cowley County Community College has a long history of responding quickly to the needs of business and industry.
On Monday, it will embark on another training venture when classes begin at the Aviation Tech Center in Wichita.
Spearheaded by the Kansas Technical Training Initiative, the Aviation Tech Center, operated by Cowley, will begin offering daytime and nighttime classes in Power Plant. The day program will be taught from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., while the night program is from 4-10 p.m. The sessions will run congruently so that workers whose shifts change at their jobs still will be able to take classes.
Greg McCoy, executive director of aviation programs at Cowley, said the center's ultimate goal was simple.
"We want to create an aviation training corridor in south-central Kansas," McCoy said. "It will go from Hutchinson, through El Dorado, to Independence, and back to Arkansas City and back to Wichita. We want to create a corridor in that area to train aviation technicians. We're serving a multi-county corridor."
Cowley has taught airframe and power plant classes at its Strother Field facility for many years. The college is teaching classes in Independence, and more than 70 students were expected for Monday's opening of the Aviation Tech Center at 7603 E. Pawnee in Wichita.
Pete Gustaf, executive director of KTTI, said the center's potential is virtually infinite.
"I think it will be a regional center of aviation training," Gustaf said. "Hopefully, we can draw students in from neighboring states and give them the opportunity to receive world-class aviation technical training that can meet the demands of the aviation employers in our area."
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 4 at the center and will feature Lt. Gov. John Moore and several dignitaries from Wichita and Sedgwick County.
Unlike Cowley's program at Strother Field, the Aviation Tech Center will be an open-entry, open-exit system. McCoy said students could enroll at any time.
"We call it a wheel system," he said. "A student can join the wheel, and when it goes completely around, they'll be finished. It doesn't matter where they start. Once they take all 11 classes, they would have completed the power plant session."
McCoy said a prep class was going on now for students in airframe.
"The prep class is for individuals with extended years of experience in the aviation industry and a knowledge of the majority of the subject areas," McCoy said. "They have to have experience in the industry, not education in the industry."
McCoy said the prep class would last a maximum of six months.
"It's based on their exact background," he said. The prep class is assisting laid-off workers to expand their skills and get them back into the aviation industry once they've obtained licensing from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Wichita aircraft manufacturers Boeing, Cessna, Raytheon and Bombardier have donated more than $600,000 worth of equipment to the center. The four, along with the city of Wichita, the Sedgwick County Commission and Unified School District 259, helped form the private non-profit KTTI to prepare for future workforce needs. Due to projected critical needs in aviation, the first phase is the implementation of a world-class aviation maintenance school.
Butler County Community College, Hutchinson Community College, and Wichita Area Technical College also will develop centers of excellence covering other areas.
The program at the Aviation Tech Center is fast-paced and can be completed in 18 months. Credits apply toward an associate of applied science degree from Cowley. Financial aid is available.