Western Michigan University is partnering with a global provider of aviation services, AAR. The goal of this partnership is to provide real-life work experience for students who are studying to become aircraft maintenance technicians. Through this partnership, WMU also aims to give these students the opportunity to be hired in the field right after graduation.
The partnership between AAR and the university was announced on Oct. 26 during a reception at Western Michigan University’s Aviation Education Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. Raymond Thompson, the dean of the College of Aviation at the university, is throwing his full support behind the partnership and praised AAR for getting involved in the education of young technicians.
“AAR is taking a leadership role in providing career pathways and guidance for those interested in pursuing a career in large aircraft maintenance. The technician shortage is real and growing worse,” said Thompson.
Brian Sartain, the senior vice president of repair and engineering services at AAR echoed similar sentiments in a written announcement, saying that efforts like this partnership will go a long way in addressing the shortage of aircraft maintenance technicians across the industry. In 2017, approximately 131,500 aircraft mechanics and service technicians were employed in the United States. Sartain hopes that by giving students early, hands-on training they’ll be guaranteed high-paying jobs upon graduation.
The program created by the partnership is being called the AAR Eagle Career Pathway Program, and it is the first of its kind program regarding routine maintenance for aircraft. The program will be designed to expand the University’s current program. It will include repair and operating supply instruction, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities, and education in proprietary software information for those interested in careers as technicians. In the program, students can expect to be trained in areas such as vibration analysis, field balancing procedure, and bearing vibration.
According to Sartain, the program will take five years to complete and will give students easy access to the largest maintenance repair and overhaul network of facilities in the Americas. While the aviation program at Western Michigan University is already competitive, the new program will help close the gap between the next decade’s projected supply and demand of mechanics by offering participants of the program an interview with AAR following graduation.