The Force Behind the Aircraft Maintenance Program – Kirkwood Communiqué
Aviation Maintenance Technology Program Director Nathan Bellinger examines a jet at the eastern Iowa airport that will be used for training new Kirkwood students entering the program next fall. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Left to right: Trina Weiland, Industrial Technology Operations Coordinator, Thomas Lueck, Program Instructor, and Emily Logan, Industrial Technology Dean, collaborate on academic components and state guidelines. PHOTO BY CHRISTY LOGAN
As administrators of Kirkwood Community College’s Industrial Technology Department anticipate the start of the new Aviation Maintenance Technology program next fall, they have their hands full.
With a series of ongoing student recruitment efforts and tenuous days laying the groundwork for the program’s academic components, there’s still a lot of work to be done before the first class begins – a decision they say will s falls under very strict FAA state rules, regulations and guidelines. .
“It’s hard to overstate the degree of FAA scrutiny and the extent to which our work is subject,” said Dr. Emily Logan, dean of the college’s industrial technology department.
“What’s really exciting about this field is that when you think about the potential of the students who will complete the program, they really have the opportunity to have a global experience,” Logan said.
Last month, the college introduced the program to the community after receiving a combined total of nearly $1 million from federal and local funding sources to support the program’s launch.
Additionally, the program also acquired its own airport hangar at the Eastern Iowa Airport from Alliant Energy to use as a classroom and workspace for aviation students.
The two-year program, which culminates in an Associates of Applied Science (AAS), requires students to complete 77.5 credit hours of coursework, including the full academic year and summer terms.
As the first class of 24 students enroll, they will undergo extensive training in the study of aircraft engines, metal and composite structures (fiberglass), electronics, hydraulics and pneumatics as well as communications and landing gear instruments, said Nathan Bellinger, Aviation Maintenance Technology Program Director. Additionally, students will also be able to receive specialized certifications, he said.
In terms of recruiting students for next year’s entering class, Bellinger said the department is casting a wide net. “We recruit everywhere,” he said. However, the college expects its target audience to be everyone from traditional post-high school students to a host of non-traditional career-changing students and veterans.
Additionally, for students funding their aviation education, they will submit the Federal Student Aid Report to the College, like all Kirkwood students, and may also be eligible for certain scholarships through the through the Kirkwood Foundation. Additionally, they may also be eligible for the state’s Last Dollar Future Ready Scholarship if the college decides to add this program to its list of eligible programs, said Financial Aid Program Specialist Tristan Lynn. at Iowa College Aid in Des Moines.
Because aviation education is considered regional in nature rather than statewide, the college has only five programs that the state allows colleges such as Kirkwood to fund in under The Last Dollar Scholarship Program.
“The Aviation Maintenance Technology program is another opportunity for Kirkwood Community College to meet our region’s workforce needs,” Logan said. Moreover, the college will also help fill the labor shortage in this much-needed field, she added. Additionally, Kirkwood’s partnership with Eastern Iowa Airport facilitates high-quality teaching and learning to prepare the next generation of aviation mechanics. Logan said the college will continue to maintain partnerships with those in the aviation industry as a vital part of helping improve the program, provide equipment and provide excellent instruction.
“Additionally, ongoing partnerships with state, federal and private funding sources will hopefully help maintain program excellence and help the college deliver a first-class student experience,” he said. she declared.