Dr Gilbert

Promotional Video of our program:



There are aviation companies right outside my window that are desperate for trained aviation technicians. Because of the need for aviation technicians in North Central West Virginia and the demographic we serve, we have the potential to become one of the larger aviation technician schools in the country and serve as a cornerstone for the economic development of this region. At this time, based on our enrollment numbers, we are already above the average size for an aviation technician college.

As this message is being drafted, I look out my window and see cranes hoisting the ironwork structure in place for one of the two $10,000,000 hangars being constructed for MHI. I am told the hangar doors will be almost 45 feet tall. Today, I was informed they are making plans for a third hangar. Not to mention their new lease of an 18,000 square foot facility for aircraft parts manufacturing at a location with capacity to construct two additional buildings when needed. 

I look out the doors on the west end of the building and see Aurora Flight Sciences/Boeing expanding their operations into the RCBI building 150 feet from our parking lot. I am informed from a past graduate, they have hired more people in the past year than they have in the past eight years. In fact, last year I was told that Aurora is planning to triple their staffing in the next couple years. 

I can look out the back door and see the enormous shovels and dump trucks in the process of literally taking down a mountain to prepare more land for additional aviation maintenance companies and aviation technician jobs for graduates. Everyday their dynamite blasts literally rock our building. They are moving approximately 3.1 cubic yards of earth to prepare for the relocation of the airport terminal and potential aviation industry business, at an estimated cost of $70M. 

They Are Literally Moving Mountains!!!!! 

Two weeks ago, the Operations Manager at Pratt and Whitney told me they have openings right now for 10 technicians. They are expecting a significant number of retirements for 2022 which will open more positions for our graduates. 

Before the Christmas vacation, I attended the celebration for NorthStar’s FAA Repair Station certification. They will be rebuilding million dollar turbine engines in the second facility they opened in just five years of operation at the airport. At their main facility they are doing contract work for both Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Pratt and Whitney. They are currently looking for a third facility and have a need for 25 technicians, right now. 

Finally, KCI Aviation has recently expanded their operation to a location at the Buckhannon Airport. They will also be performing work on million dollar aircraft turbine engines. The saga continues, they are in need of technicians as well.

The future for aviation maintenance jobs in this area and across the nation has exploded. Almost every aviation maintenance related company is being impacted by the shortage of aircraft technicians. Our regional demographic is fertile ground for attracting the type of individuals who can succeed in this career field. As the enrollments for aviation increase there is a corresponding increased enrollment in English, Math, Office Admin, and Social Science classes. We have MOUs with Harrison, Taylor, and Marion counties allowing high school juniors and seniors to attend our classes and support our growth.

We should not delay promoting and expanding the aviation technology program. The aviation industry in North Central West Virginia today, and in the future, will be what the coal industry jobs were during the 1970s and 1980s. It is a new generation of career opportunities and we need to capitalize on this long term expansion. 

At this critical juncture we need the support of local West Virginians. Pratt and Whitey, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Aurora/Boeing are multi-billion companies providing excellent careers for the people in this area and provide economic stability for the State of West Virginia. The vision of Senator Robert C. Byrd, and his associates, for diversifying our economy and attracting high technology aviation maintenance jobs to this airport is being realized today. 

I hope this information serves to enlighten decision-makers unaware of our mission and our potential.

Dr. Brad Gilbert
Director and Senior Professor Aviation Technology