October 12, 2023
INDIANAPOLIS – Vincennes University proudly announced a $4.5 million state-funded initiative focused on injecting further vitality into Indiana’s aviation industry and bolstering the Indianapolis International Airport’s growth.
VU plans to expand the reach of its educational impact by doubling the enrollment of the University’s esteemed Aviation Maintenance program. In addition, VU aims to boost its high school dual credit offerings, enabling ambitious high school students to get a head start in their aviation education.
State Sen. Jeff Raatz, who is chair of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, was in attendance for the announcement and spoke at the event on Thursday, Oct. 12.
Raatz said, "This is one of the shining examples of how our educational systems can work. I applaud Vincennes University and AAR. We will see a great return on the investment throughout the lives of the students who are trained here. With programs like this, we win as a state."
The announcement was made at VU's state-of-the-art Aviation Technology Center in Indianapolis during an event attended by state and local leaders, including Rep. Jeffrey Thompson, Indiana House Ways and Means Committee chair, and Josh Garrison, senior associate commissioner and chief of staff for the Indiana Higher Education Commission, as well as industry partners, VU administrators, and the University community.
According to VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson, "This initiative allows Vincennes University the opportunity to help develop the next generation of aviation technicians and showcases our dedication to offering rewarding career paths for Hoosiers, offering them a chance to excel in an industry that is vital to our region’s growth and prosperity. We are also grateful for the investment made by our state leaders and for the ongoing support of our industry partners, paving the way for a brighter future for aviation in Indiana."
VU’s efforts will address the demand for professionals within the aviation industry and help meet the workforce needs of industry partners and the Indianapolis airport, strengthening its position as a vital hub for aviation in the United States.
Through tailored educational programs and cutting-edge facilities, VU is committed to equipping aspiring professionals with the specialized skills needed for successful careers in aviation. The University strives to empower the workforce, enhance regional economic development, and ultimately contribute to aviation’s sustainable growth within Indiana.
VU is expanding enticing pathways for aspiring aviation professionals through collaboration with industry partners, including AAR, Jet Access, FedEx, Textron, Comlux, Rolls Royce, General Electric, and Republic Airways.
Through a strategic partnership with AAR, a global leader in aviation maintenance, VU plans to fill the gap by increasing a training pipeline of highly skilled technicians through work-based learning that will lead to hundreds of new jobs.
"Vincennes University’s focus aligns closely with the objectives of our industry partners, and we’re honored to provide access to high-quality education and affordable pathways to fulfilling careers in aviation maintenance," VU Director of Aviation Michael Gehrich said. "The demand for aviation maintenance technicians is great. Together, we can cultivate a skilled workforce that will help elevate aviation in Indiana and the country."
The demand for aviation professionals is sky-high. Almost 2.3 million new aviation personnel are needed over the next 20 years to support the global commercial fleet, according to Boeing’s recent 2023 Pilot and Technician Outlook long-term forecast. Due to a retiring workforce and increasing demand for travel, the report says 690,000 maintenance technicians, 649,900 pilots, and 938,000 cabin crew members are needed.
Aviation maintenance is a high-skill, high-demand job in Indiana, and eligible VU students qualify for the state’s Next Level Jobs grant, making the program even more affordable.
In addition, VU is committed to providing accessible pathways for young learners. With the University’s new initiative, high school students can accelerate their academic journey by earning 16 college credits and completing the general section of the Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant certificate while still enrolled in high school.
"This growth will not only enrich our VU community but also strengthen the state of Indiana and the aviation industry by nurturing a new generation of skilled and passionate professionals," Gehrich said.
Aviation maintenance is a good-paying career. The median pay in 2022 for an aviation maintenance technician was $70,010 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
ABOUT VU AVIATION TECHNOLOGY CENTER
VU has a long history of aviation education that stretches back to the 1960s. The Aviation Technology Center (ATC) offers high-quality education and is a vital part of VU, which has trained professional pilots since 1964.
Located at the Indianapolis Airport, VU’s ATC is the home of the most advanced aviation labs, testing equipment, fully operational maintenance hangars, extensive hands-on training, full classroom and library facilities, and immediate airfield access.
The ATC has been home to VU’s Aviation Maintenance program since 1993. In 2010, the VU Flight program joined the Maintenance program in Indianapolis, operating ground school classes and flight simulation at the Aviation Technology Center. The University’s fleet of aircraft is based at the Eagle Creek Airpark, just a few miles from Indianapolis International.
The ATC underwent a $6 million renovation in recent years. The 92,000-square-foot facility has two hangars and a fleet of aircraft, including a fully functional Boeing 737-200 and a Gulfstream GIV corporate jet, as well as multiple full-motion flight simulators and stationary simulators.
VU students can earn a Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate and an associate degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology. VU students training to become commercial pilots can earn private, instrument, commercial, and multi-engine ratings, and an associate degree in Aviation Flight and certified flight instructor qualifications.
VU and Purdue University offer a joint degree program that provides significant savings for students looking to earn a bachelor’s degree from Purdue in Aeronautical Technology. Students who complete an associate degree in Aviation Flight or Maintenance with VU are eligible to enroll in the Purdue Aeronautical Technology program at the ATC. Students study with Purdue at the ATC and pay VU tuition rates.
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