Scholarships Emphasize Aviation Program Importance

Scholarships Emphasize Aviation Program Importance

Mid-South Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program continues to grow and evolve, and the awarding of three Arkansas Space Grant Consortium/NASA scholarships to our students this fall underscores its regional and national importance.

Jonathan Brown of Forrest City, James Foley of West Memphis, and Anthony Geiser of Memphis recently received $2,000 awards to finish the program at our institution. All three received technical certificates at our 2014 commencement, and they will soon complete the remainder of their requirements before venturing out into the world with tremendous opportunities for the future. MSCC students have now earned six ASGC/NASA scholarships since our program began just three years ago, further illustrating the value of the training we are providing on our campus.

Aviation Maintenance is an especially powerful program for our region for a variety of reasons. Because of an anticipated shortfall of qualified mechanics in the near future, mostly from impending retirements of an aging workforce, tech-savvy trainees are in high demand throughout the nation. According to some experts, new employment opportunities in the profession are expected to increase 7 percent in the next four years, and we want our students to be ready to fill a good number of those positions.

In addition to jobs in the aviation industry, program participants have other opportunities as well. The skills they learn translate well into other high-demand fields such as automotive, diesel, racing, marine, heavy equipment, and industrial technology.

By offering this training, we are taking local folks whose options for future success at one time seemed fairly limited and putting them in a position to land lucrative and stable jobs with major companies in our region. This program gives us the opportunity to impact our neighborhoods and communities by changing our culture and our way of life.

And MSCC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program isn’t just about education and training. It’s also about economic development. Any time you can create a program that trains local folks for great careers with world-class companies, that’s economic development. By providing a steady stream of qualified workers, we let current and future employers know that we’re serious about meeting the employment needs of our region.

To meet the growing demands for highly-training technicians, we are working toward expansion of our program. Because of physical space constraints, we have been limited by Federal Aviation Administration requirements to 45 students one time (three cohorts of 15 students each). We are addressing that issue with a new facility that will be built on our South Campus. We’re still dealing with some funding/financing issues, but thanks to generous public and private assistance, we will break ground soon on a facility that will give us the opportunity to dramatically increase the number of students we can train.

As with all of our buildings and equipment, the aviation maintenance facility will be among the best in the region. We are committed to developing a world-class training initiative that is completely responsive to the Memphis metropolitan area workforce needs, and our goal continues to be the creation of a workforce that will be second to none in the nation. The people and employers of the Mid-South deserve nothing less.