Iowa Western Receives $475,000 Grant to Update Aircraft Technology Program | Education

Iowa Western Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program has received a $475,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA announced Friday.

“The grant is only for 18 months, but we hope to use it to update the curriculum, update equipment and increase student enrollment,” said Matt Mancuso, executive director of the economic and workforce development of the college.

The award was part of $5 million in grants designated by the agency “to develop a diverse pipeline of aviation maintenance technicians,” an FAA press release said. The funding will go to organizations that will teach technical skills and prepare students for careers in aircraft maintenance.

“A career as an aircraft maintenance technician opens up a wide world of opportunity,” said FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims. “These grants will allow us to reach and support people who may not have had the chance to pursue this exciting career before.”

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Recipients can use the funds to establish new educational programs; provide scholarships or apprenticeships to individuals seeking employment in the aircraft maintenance industry; conduct awareness activities on careers in the aviation maintenance industry with elementary, secondary and post-secondary school students; and supporting educational opportunities related to aviation maintenance in economically disadvantaged areas, according to the press release.

Iowa Western plans to use the funding to increase recruitment efforts, expand student support services and expand and update the program, Mancuso said. For recruiting and outreach, the college will use the funding to produce brochures and videos and add a part-time recruiter for veterans.

The college will work with veterans organizations and Offutt Air Force Base to recruit veterans into the program, he said. In addition, officials will work more closely with Council Bluffs Community Schools and Burke High School in Omaha. Each secondary school will receive training materials so that students can experience aircraft maintenance. College officials will also communicate with adult learners.

To improve student support services, Iowa Western will hire a part-time math tutor for aviation students, implement peer-to-peer mentoring, and provide post-graduation aviation maintenance certification tutoring. students, Mancuso said.

A full-time lab assistant will be hired to increase the program’s capacity to up to 25 students, he said. The FAA requires a student-teacher ratio of no more than 25 to 1, and freshmen are typically at 25.

“With an additional staff member, we’re able to increase first-year capacity,” Mancuso said. “It’s a tough program with academic and FAA requirements, so many students find it challenging — and many don’t persist. This is why we focus on recruitment and support after they enter the program.

As of November, Iowa Western’s aviation technology program had 25 freshmen — the maximum admitted — and 20 sophomores.

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