As you’ve read in my recent blogs the school board which governs Blackhawk Technical College met last week and one of the agenda items was public comments relating to the suspension and possible closing of this long-time aircraft maintenance technician program. Numerous supporters turned out and many had a chance to speak in support of continuing the program. I was there along with other graduates, local aviators, current students, EAA chapter members, school instructors, aviation business owners, and more.
During my three minutes I provided a quick overview of the industry, the need for AMTs and also information on the demographics of the current and aging aircraft maintenance technician workforce. Alan Klapmeier, CEO of Kestrel Aircraft and co-founder of Cirrus, mentioned how his company plans to build in the state of Wisconsin requiring many skilled aircraft technicians. Alan also provided an explanation to the board how the skills taught at an A&P school can benefit students going into many trades not only aviation. State Representative Amy Loudenbeck was there to thank the school board for allowing the opportunity for supporters of the aviation program to be heard. Pam Thomas from the Friends of BTC Aviation, Jim Freeman president of Janesville, Wisconsin, based Helicopter Specialties, and others all provided key information on how closing this aviation program would have damaging effects on the local community as well as aviation businesses in the area.
No action was taken by the school board, yet it was encouraging to see and hear from local aviators coming together for the common cause of supporting a long-time aircraft maintenance technician school at risk of being closed. Perhaps this effort will do some good – we can hope. All of this made me wonder, are there other aviation programs around the country in similar situations – at risk of being closed and if so for what reason? Is it enrollment, budget cuts, lack of interest? I’d like to know. Ron