Sep. 25—Moore Norman Technology Center unveiled its new aviation maintenance technology program at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning.
The purpose of the new program is to create a workforce that can support different aviation industries in the area, including Will Rogers Airport and Tinker Air Force Base, among other private and public enterprises.
The 18-month hands-on training program offers students the ability to prepare for airframe and power plant certification in aviation mechanics.
Cleveland County is supporting the program with a $1 million contribution from the American Rescue Plan Act.
"With the $1 million, they purchased several pieces of electronic equipment," said Rod Cleveland, Cleveland County commissioner. "This is perfect for what we need right now because aerospace is top on our list."
He said aerospace is the second largest and fastest growing industry in Oklahoma, but the state is not yet in a position where it can supply its own workers to maintain aircrafts.
Cleveland said students are interested in learning aviation, but the county doesn't yet have the infrastructure to train all potential students. He said this grant will help learners to come one step closer to landing jobs in their desired fields.
"We are concentrating on aerospace in Cleveland County. The OU School of Aviation has had a max record of attendance. Moore Norman Tech maxed out with its aerospace school. The Oklahoma Aviation Academy maxed out with its capacity at 160 students," he said. "We look at what that ARPA money would do to build an infrastructure and a workforce for the future."
Brian Ruttman, superintendent of Moore Norman Technology Center, said it is important to establish Cleveland County as a hub for aviation and aerospace.
"Through the years, leaders and innovators in the district have recognized trends and evolving workforce needs," Ruttman said. "Decade-after-decade, they have adapted or created training programs to produce a pipeline of highly skilled workers who are ready to fill high-wage high-demand careers."
Glen Cosper, district board president, said Cleveland County boasts the largest number of Tinker and FAA workers in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
"These workers are all aging out. We will be able to replace them and add workers for the new projects," Cosper said. "Just like you see restaurants clustered by each other, these people in this industry like to be in close proximity to share resources and talent."
He said this program will elevate the standard of living to those who participate in it.
"Our kids, grandkids, neighbors and friends will be able to have good paying jobs, buy homes, pay taxes and support a great quality of life in our community," he said.
Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, spoke to attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony about the importance of creating an aviation hub in Cleveland County.
"One of my biggest fears as a South Oklahoma City representative was that Will Rogers was here, Tinker was here, Max Westheimer was here and Moore Norman didn't have an aviation program," Rosino said.
The school launched its aviation program in 2020, but the addition of a maintenance program will solidify the school as a jobs creation center, according to Rosino.
"Not only did they accept the concept, they hit a grand slam," he said.
Brian King covers education and politics for The Transcript. Reach him at [email protected].
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