The newest program addition to the Calhoun Area Career Center is giving students an unparalleled and invaluable opportunity to prepare for future careers in the aviation industry. The aviation program covers all facets of the industry and is directed at students wishing to pursue any career path within the industry, and not just for those who want to be pilots.
The program’s goal is to develop a solid, knowledge-based foundation for either post-secondary education in aviation, or entry level jobs in the workforce. This year-long program offers 7 articulated credit hours through a partnership between the Calhoun Area Career Center, Kellogg Community College, and Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation.
The program, now in its second year, was born of a collaboration between aviation stakeholders in Battle Creek, including Duncan Aviation, a major maintenance facility for business jets. So far, the program has been incredibly successful. With over 20 students completing the 2010-2011 academic year, nearly half have gone on to pursue aviation related higher education. Former students who are now freshman at Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation came back to the Center, recently, to share their experiences with 10th graders thinking about signing up. “This class really helped prepare me for my classes at Western. When I got to class the first day, I knew everything the professor was talking about, and we even used the exact same textbooks,” said one graduate. Continuing on its first year success, the program is now poised to become a two year curriculum. The aim of such an expansion is to provide students with additional articulated credits and a semester of work-based learning with local aviation entities.
Students in CACC’s Aviation program are exposed to a diverse spectrum of topics within the aviation industry, from the history and development of aviation to accident investigations. The class also develops skills which are critical to almost everyone in the aviation workforce, like flight planning procedures, weather interpretation, and safety. Students augment their academics in the program’s flight simulator lab, equipped with two state of the art simulators capable of representing a light training aircraft or a regional jet airliner. During the unit on aerodynamics, the students have a chance to engineer a prototype wing and test it in the class’s wind tunnel. While studying aircraft systems, they learn how to perform routine maintenance inspections on a piston engine airplane. Between field trips to various corporate flight departments, the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, and Jackson Community College where students have a chance to take the controls of a real Cessna 172 (with an instructor aboard!), there are possibilities for students to explore the full scope of their interests in the industry. In addition to industry specific skills, students also undergo career and employability skills training, where they receive training on the entire hiring process from how to properly complete a job application, to building a resume and cover letter, and culminating with a mock interview. Seniors in can earn a fourth year math credit.
Aviation at the Calhoun Area Career Center is just beginning to take off. With the potential to earn up to 16 credits at the successful completion of two years in the program, it is a tremendous cost savings for students intent on becoming professional in the aviation industry. With very few aviation themed career and technical education classes in the state, the Calhoun Area Career Center is in position and on its way to set the standard.