Aug. 8—FAIRMONT — While meeting this week in interim session, the West Virginia State Legislature passed a $25 million budget allocation for Pierpont Community and Technical College.
The funds will be used to construct a new 70,000 square-foot hangar and classroom that will house the college's popular aviation maintenance training program based at the North Central West Virginia Airport.
As proposed, the new facility will give Pierpont's program enough space to add 70 more students to its program, which currently is maxed out at 130 seats, according to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.
"The new building and increased capacity will allow Pierpont Community & Technical College to better serve the community and the economic interests of the aviation companies in North Central West Virginia," Brad Gilbert, director of aviation at Pierpont, said. "We will also be better able to adapt to changes in course offerings and have space available for evening and weekend courses as the demand increases."
The proposed design features two high bay hangers, aviation-related specialty labs, including shops for turbine and reciprocating engine overhauls, flight controls and hydraulics, lecture classrooms, and a learning resource and testing center.
Pierpont's Advanced Welding program will also have shops and classrooms within the facility.
"Our Aviation Maintenance program has always been vital to the growth of West Virginia," Milan Hayward, president of Pierpont Community & Technical College, said. "As the state's aviation industry grows, this new state-of-the-art facility allows Pierpont to provide even more highly-skilled and qualified graduates that are prepared to enter the workforce immediately."
"The aviation industry in West Virginia expects to grow rapidly in the near future, with hundreds of new employees expected within the next five years," Pierpont Board of Governor's Chair David Hinkle said. "With the support of the State of West Virginia, this facility will allow this program to flourish and provide the education and training needed to continue building industry."
Pierpont's Aviation Maintenance Technology program provides training in aircraft technology to prepare students to be qualified to take the FAA Part 147 tests.
Offering a two-year associate degree and one-year certificates, students learn to perform maintenance, remove and replace components, troubleshoot, and repair aircraft systems while developing plans to analyze and develop solutions for aircraft problems using approved maintenance materials.
"The skill sets aviation technology students gain in the program are directly applicable to not only the aviation industry but many other industries in North Central West Virginia," Gilbert said. "Over the past 31 years, our graduates have provided dedicated service to the aviation industry as technicians, lead mechanics, crew chiefs, and administrators. Our graduates have been supporting the economic growth of this area since the program began, and it is great to see a new generation of students build upon that legacy."
Del. Joey Garcia, D-76, of Fairmont, said the allocation is an investment in West Virginia's future.
"I'm excited we are investing in our local workforce," Garcia said. "This funding is essential to expand the aviation maintenance technician program at Pierpont CTC and meet the workforce demands of new aerospace companies in North Central West Virginia."
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