Aviation Maintenance Technology Program Receives Major Boost

Marshall University’s Aviation Technology and Maintenance program moved a significant step closer to takeoff with the announcement in October of a $1.36 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to fund startup and operating costs. The new Marshall program is a collaborative effort among Marshall University, the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and Mountwest Community and Technical College.

“The ARC POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) award to the Region 2 Planning and Development Council based in Huntington is crucial to the future economic diversification and resiliency of the Tri-State,” said Chris Chiles, executive director of the Region 2 Planning and Development Council.

POWER is a federal initiative to spur economic development in communities affected by the decline in coal mining and related industries. In Wednesday’s announcement, the ARC awarded more than $43.3 million to boost the economy across Appalachia, including more than $5.8 million for projects in West Virginia.

“POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they recover from COVID-19 by building and expanding critical infrastructure and creating new economic opportunities through innovative and transformative approaches,” said ARC Federal co-chairman Tim Thomas. “Projects like this are getting Appalachia back to work.”

Marshall University’s Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) program helps grow the aerospace industry in West Virginia, and expand opportunities in the western region of our state,”  said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

Graduates of the 18-month Aviation Technology and Maintenance program, based at the Huntington Tri-State Airport, will have the opportunity to earn FAA certifications along with an Associate of Applied Science degree in aviation maintenance through a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Marshall University and Mountwest Community and Technical College. The Aviation Technology and Maintenance program is set to launch in January 2022 and is being developed with the input of aviation industry experts.

“The development of a highly skilled workforce is key to the continued expansion of the aviation/aerospace sector in West Virginia,” said Marshall President Jerome Gilbert. “Skilled maintenance technicians are in great demand – even during the time of COVID-19. Aviation industry experts project a need for 193,000 new maintenance technicians between 2020 and 2038 because of growth in the sector and the retirement of baby boomers.”

The Tri-State Aviation Maintenance Technician Start-Up program, coordinated by the Region 2 Planning and Development Council, Marshall University, RCBI, and Mountwest Community and Technical College, will train aviation maintenance technicians for good-paying jobs that support the growing aerospace industry in the state,” said Sen. Joe Manchin.

“Thank you to ARC for helping make our state the premier place for business growth and economic investment,” said Congresswoman Carol Miller. “This project will create new jobs and strengthen our growing aerospace industry.”

For more information about the Marshall University Aviation Technology and Maintenance program, contact Jim Smith, interim program manager, by phone at 304-781-1688 or by e-mail at jsmith@rcbi.org.