Officials with Marshall University and Mountwest Community & Technical College, along with the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), today ceremonially broke ground at Huntington Tri-State Airport for their joint Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program.
Facilities construction for the new program includes renovations to an existing hangar, as well as a makeover for an old armory at Tri-State that will house laboratory and classroom space. Total renovation cost is $2.7 million.
Today’s event was attended by federal, state and local officials, as well as aviation industry partners including Delta Air Lines, which announced the program would receive Delta Education support.
Currently under review by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Higher Learning Commission, the program is set to welcome students in spring 2022 and will feature hands-on instruction for a career field that is forecast to grow at a high rate in coming years.
“Today is an exciting day for Marshall University and our region,” said Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert, president of Marshall. “This incredible collaboration, involving multiple partners, has allowed the AMT program to take flight. Marshall is proud to participate in relationships that work across the economic spectrum and lead to opportunities for our great state and the entire region. I also want to thank Mike Sellards for his leadership at Mountwest throughout this process.”
Thought to be the first of its kind in West Virginia, the joint program between Marshall and Mountwest will educate students in 18-24 months and include opportunities to earn FAA certifications.
Michael Sellards, interim president of Mountwest, said he is looking forward to the program opening.
“Mountwest will enroll the students, provide financial aid opportunities, and lend student advising and academic support while working directly with Marshall University on student success,” Sellards said.
Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO and vice president for federal programs at Marshall, said the process of navigating industry standards and working with federal and state agencies has culminated in what is expected to be a premier program.
“Marshall and Mountwest have truly worked with dozens of partners and agencies to make this program a reality,” Weber said. “We have a few more final details to work out but are focused on opening the doors in just about a year.”
The program’s curriculum will include traditional lectures as well as hands-on instruction at Tri-State Airport, where airport director Brent Brown says the affiliation with the AMT program will serve as a catalyst for future aviation development.
“I’m hopeful the location of the aviation maintenance program here at Tri-State will pave the way for other companies to position their operations here,” Brown said.
The partnership in aviation maintenance is just one of Marshall’s newest programs in aviation. A four-year degree, educating and training pilots for fixed-wing aircraft, is moving forward in cooperation with Yeager Airport in Charleston.
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“This program will allow students to earn a joint degree from Marshall University and Mountwest Community and Technical College. As a pilot myself, I’ve always enjoyed aviation and I’m proud to see such a strong program become available by these prestigious institutions.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (delivered by letter)
“This is a wonderful shot in the arm for Tri-State Airport and the region. The partnerships shown here today are indeed valuable. The private sector, government and education are working together to prepare the next generation of workforce.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito
“Because of the great vision of these two presidents, Jerome Gilbert and Mike Sellards, we have a unique cross-institutional program that will prepare the next generation. According to estimates from Boeing and other companies, more than 700,000 people will be needed in this career field.”
U.S. Rep. Carol Miller
“West Virginia is really moving and it’s really moving because of all of you. We are embarking to a place where West Virginia is a go-to for aviation. This university and community suffered a tragedy many years ago; this program is a tribute like none other to those lost in 1970.”
Governor Jim Justice
“We are good individually, but when we collaborate, we can do marvelous things. When I travel around West Virginia I’m always asked what we are doing right and I always answer our workforce. This collaboration will help give us jobs for that workforce.”
W.Va. Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch