The substantial-sized grant is not only unusual for a small school, but it is also unique in that it is specifically for equipment. Dr. Thomas Baynum, CBC president, said that for the government to help a small school obtain so much equipment is incredibly significant.
“We have been doing airframe technology for a couple of years now, but it would have been years before we were able to get the power plant technology,” Baynum said. “To get the power plant equipment means that we have all the training equipment needed to work on engines.”
Baynum continued that eventually this could allow CBC students to go for FAA certification, which would give them national accreditation.
“We’re not there yet,” he said. “But having this equipment is a huge piece of that puzzle.”
The purpose of the grant is to help communities impacted by Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and to provide equipment to community colleges so that they might provide training for veterans and people living in defense industry communities.
Coastal Bend College is based in Beeville, where Naval Air Station Chase Field was closed in 1994.
The goal of the grant program is to increase or retain employment opportunities for defense workers and residents of adversely affected defense communities.
“The commission recognized that recovery from BRAC is a long and painful process for small counties,” Michael Kane, CBC director of workforce programs, explained. “We are going to be able to do contextual training – hands-on skills building with real-world applications,” Kane said.
The equipment purchased with grant funds will take the airframe and power technology program to a Federal Aviation Administration Level 3 designation.
Currently, CBC has the equipment to do training in airframe technology. The funds will help fulfill a need for simulators and other equipment for a lab where students can train in power technology.
“This will move our program forward to a level that we would have taken years to achieve,” Baynum said. “This equipment grant will greatly increase learning and skills building opportunities for students in the airframe and power technology program.”
The majority of the airframe and power plant technology students are training to work at Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance or similar plants. Baynum said that many of the students work at Sikorsky already and are using the training to achieve promotions.
“Our goal is always to train students to work in our communities. We are mandated to make sure the jobs we train for are here,” Baynum said.
Although CBC focuses on building the local workforce, graduates from this program could have options to work in other areas with airframe and power plant industries.
CBC offers an associate’s degree of applied sciences in airframe and power technology, a Level I certificate in powerplant; a Level I certificate in airframe; a Level I certificate in turbine aircraft training and a general aviation certificate. All airframe and power technology courses are taught in Beeville.