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For Immediate Release
July 13, 2012
Contact: Doug Sly, 509-793-2003

Students explore aerospace careers

A group of Spokane students received red carpet treatment from a host of players in the aerospace industry this summer as part of the state’s efforts to encourage more people to pursue aerospace careers.

The 21 students from NEWTECH Skills Center in Spokane were flown to Big Bend Community College July 2 courtesy of Alaska/Horizon Airlines. They met pilots, flight attendants, and ground crew as part of a 12-day summer aerospace career exploration camp.

Students learned more about aerospace and commercial pilot and careers during two days at Big Bend Community College. The BBCC Flight Program taught ground school classes in aerodynamics, explored options available to career pilots, and even gave the students a chance to take the controls of the training fleet on a Discovery Flight.

“Each of the professional instructors in the flight program donated an evening to give the students the opportunity to fly an airplane,” said John Swedburg, Chief Pilot for BBCC’s Commercial Pilot program.

The camp experience also introduced opportunities available at BBCC in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program, and the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter Program.

The students spent nine days at Spokane Community College exploring machining, welding, CAD drafting, and aviation maintenance.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience for some of these students to enjoy so much special? attention,” said Rebecca Milligan, recruiter for BBCC’s aviation maintenance program. Funding for the students was obtained from the Governors Investment in Aerospace and the NEWTECH Skills Center.

Students also visited an FAA flight traffic control tower and Spokane International Airport.

“The camp organizers tried to provide a complete picture of what aerospace has to offer in Washington State,” Milligan said.

One rare opportunity was watching live aircraft firefighting exercises at Grant County International Airport, where many regional airport firefighters get their training.

BBCC and Spokane Community College are members of the Air Washington consortium of 11 community colleges and one apprenticeship program awarded a $20 million Department of Labor grant to expand aerospace programs. BBCC is using its share of the grant to expand capacity of its aviation maintenance program.

The goal of Air Washington is to train more than 2,600 workers to enter the state’s aerospace workforce in three years, and to secure Washington as the world leader in aerospace training and education. The focus is on degrees and certificates that can be completed in two years or less.

Washington State is home to the largest cluster (650) of aerospace companies in the world, and the industry needs to hire 21,000 new workers in the next 10 years.

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced during Farnborough Air Show in London last week that several aerospace companies plan to expand in the state. Gregoire also announced signing of an agreement between the Washington Board for Community and Technical Colleges and Dassault Systemes, making the company’s training software available to the state’s two-year colleges for a discounted price. The agreement will allow many more students to train on software required by Boeing and other aerospace companies.

BBCC operates one of five aviation maintenance schools in the state and is one of two Community Colleges which owns a fleet of aircraft to instruct career pilot education. Other community colleges in the consortium provide degrees and certificates in precision machining, aircraft assembly, composites, and electronics/avionics.

“As part of the Air Washington group, we have an extensive network of industry and educational partners,” said Clyde Rasmussen, BBCC Dean of Professional/Technical Programs.

The Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting facility is maintained by the Port of Moses Lake and classes are taught by Big Bend Community College

Students watching aircraft firefighting exercise.

Big Bend Community College trainer next to Alaska/Horizon Bombardier Q400 70-passenger plane.

Students from NEWTECH Skills Center after their flight to Grant County International Airport.

Students check out the fully operational 727 used as a learning lab for BBCC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. The plane was donated by FedEx.

Alaska/Horizon Airlines crew with Big Bend Community College flight instructors.


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