Friday, 25 February 2011 20:53

Calhoun getting aviation center

Decatur Daily
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State moving program from Albertville facility

An aviation program dubbed a cooperative effort between two junior colleges is expected to start at Calhoun Community College in Limestone County next fall.

The state Board of Education on Thursday approved moving Enterprise State Community College’s Alabama Aviation Center from Albertville to the Calhoun campus.

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education must approve the move, but the plan is to start the program in one of the historic hangars at Pryor Field Regional Airport, Calhoun President Marilyn Beck said. The airport is adjacent to the Calhoun campus.

Calhoun’s only expense to prepare for the opening is cleaning and painting the building, she said.

The Alabama Aviation Center is the only aviation training facility in the state’s two-year college system. The program will include five airframe technology courses, leading to a certificate in aircraft structures. It trains students in aircraft equipment maintenance and aircraft service technology.

Enterprise State President Nancy Chandler said she expects her college, which has its main campus in Enterprise, will save $80,000 in lease expenses it has to pay in Albertville.

“The rapidly expanding aviation industry in Decatur and Huntsville” is the main reason for the move, Chandler said.

“By being at the Calhoun campus, students can take the aviation component, go to work in the field and then continue their education to get a degree,” Chandler said.

Beck said the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville International Airport and aerospace professionals “asked for the college to do this type of training for some time, but it just never came together before.”

Beck said she expects the demand for the program to be high in North Alabama.

Matthew Hughes, director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, said the program will help the state recruit the employers who need highly skilled workers. He called the program’s move a logical step to meet the needs of both colleges.

State Board of Education member Charles Elliott, R-Decatur, said the program makes sense for the area.

“We already have an aviation hub at the Huntsville airport and growing aerospace industry that need the program,” Elliott said.

Chandler and Beck said enrollment will determine program costs. Chandler said the average cost is $300 per class per, student each semester, but some materials costs could change course costs.

“We don’t plan to cap the enrollment number. We will be able to expand to meet need,” Chandler said.

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