Sinclair expansion of aviation program aims for more, better-trained students

More space at Sinclair’s current airport facility should add on space for additional students and better learning equipment.

Sinclair Community College is expanding and updating its aviation maintenance training facility, which would allow the college to add more students and more updated equipment to better train the students they have.

Sinclair Community College president Steve Johnson said with the increased amount of aviation businesses coming to the area and the current need for aircraft technicians, employers are constantly asking the college for who would be willing to take on those jobs.

About 150 students are enrolled in Sinclair’s Aviation Technology programs this school year, Sinclair said. More than 200 degrees and certificates have been awarded in the last five years.

The college does not currently have an estimate of how many additional students will be able to enter the program due to the increase in space.

The program is a two-year associate degree.

Erin Walling, a current Sinclair aviation technology student due to graduate at the end of this semester, said since her start in the aviation technology program in 2019 Sinclair has updated the equipment she is able to use to learn.

“You could not do what you needed to do,” she said of some of the old equipment.

Now, there are functional aircraft the students can work on, and more space to work on full-sized aircraft.

With the expansion Sinclair has already done and the new expansion, Walling said she has been better able to learn what she needs to know before she goes into the workforce.

Walling said she had also worked full-time and COVID-19 interrupted her progress, but she was still able to attend school due to her professors and the college supporting her.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for aviation technicians and mechanics is growing. It’s projected to grow 4% by 2032, with 12,800 openings each year. The median wage for these jobs is roughly $70,000.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who has touted the business expansion and workforce development aspect of Ohio for years, said the expansion benefits both the students who will graduate into an in-demand field and the employers who need more people.

“Businesses, when they get the talent, the community wins because it sees growth and prosperity,” Husted said. “And people win because they have the skills that lead to great careers, sustainable futures and hopeful opportunities.”

Mark Williams, Sierra Nevada Corporation senior vice president of strategy, said the company, which recently moved to Dayton and focuses on developing aircrafts for the military, is “rapidly expanding” and needs significantly more trained employees like the ones Sinclair is graduating.

“There’s going to be a demand signal for young talent like yourself at SNC,” Williams said. “We’re going to stress the universities, the colleges, the aviation training programs, because we’re going to have to hire a lot of people.”

About the Author