Young people in the West Valley who have always wanted to work in the aerospace maintenance industry will now have the opportunity with the opening of the West-MEC Aviation High School in Glendale.
Aviation High School – The West-MEC program, which provides technical training in a vast array of careers, has grown exponentially since opening in 2003. What began with 450 students now serves more than 26,000 in 40 high schools within 12 member districts. Cliff Migal, assistant superintendent for West-MEC, says the program’s success is due in part to its partnerships with the business and education communities.
There were no technical training institutes in the West Valley, Migal says, but through partnerships, they were able to get something started.
As Freshman, students may start taking satellite program classes on school grounds. As juniors, they can take the central program classes, which are held off school grounds. The programs also will one day be available to adults. The cost of adult tuition is still being determined, but Migal said it could cost about $14,000. Students in high school pay $500.
The aviation program, which officially launches Aug. 8, is a licensure program requiring 1,952 hours of training. It will
include studying an airplane’s wings, propellers, landing gears, hydraulics, electrical system and engine. Once completed, students can take the Federal Aviation Administration licensure exam. Those who pass will become licensed aviation maintenance technicians, qualified to work for airplane repair shops. The program, which is in the final stages of certification with the FAA, will be audited and reviewed annually by the federal agency, Migal says, to ensure the school is following curriculum and delivering a quality education.
The aviation school is the first of West-MEC’s programs to be built from the ground up. It was made possible through a lease-donation agreement with the John F. Long Revocable Trust and its innovative design has been recognized by WESTMARC with the Best of the West Architectural Innovation award.
DLR Group and McCarthy Building Companies were involved in the design and construction of the facility, which is like an airport hangar, but with features that disguise its identity. The exterior, Migal says, was designed to look like free-flowing wings and has taxi lines running up the sidewalk and into the building.
Inside, 12,000 square feet of open space provides plenty of room to maneuver.
Distinctive features include air ducts resembling airplane air ducts, a light fixture in the main lobby that simulates helicopter blades and airplane-related wall murals.
Sustainable features include a white roof to reflect the sun and an evaporation cooling system that cools and heats almost 40 percent of the facility. Solar panels might be added.
Advanced Real Estate Resources helped with the design and development. Williams Aviation Consulting helped develop the program’s curriculum and in locating donated equipment.
The program would not have been possible without an advisory committee of industry representatives from across the Phoenix Metropolitan area, Migal says. “We will always make sure that the skill set the school provides is the skill set industry needs and demands.”