(LtoR) Westfield Mayor Brian P. Sullivan, U.S. Rep, Richard E. Neal, D-Ma., Westfield Technical Academy principal Stefan Czaporowski, state Sen. Donald F. Humanson Jr., R-Westfield and state Rep. John Velis attended the grand opening of WTA's new aviation maintenance program Monday.
WESTFIELD - The first students to enroll in Westfield Technical Academy's Aviation Maintenance Technology program were advised Monday afternoon to take advantage of the opportunity now available.
Dignitaries from Boston to Washington D.C. were joined at the Smith Avenue campus Monday afternoon by more than 200 parents, residents, educators and aviation industry representatives for the grand opening of the new technology program.
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., noted that "right now there are 16,000 precision jobs unfilled in New England. Each of these represent an average salary of $66,000. This new program represents the future skill set for workers right here in Westfield today."
Mayor Brian P. Sullivan advised the 14 freshmen students, the Class of 2019, to "take advantage of this opportunity we are offering. Westfield has come together like never before to provide this opportunity. It was a tremendous amount of work by a lot of people in the city. And, it will be worth it because today we celebrate putting Westfield on the map."
State Sen. Donald F. Humason Jr., R-Westfield, who is chairman of the Massachusetts Aviation Caucus called the WTA aviation program "ground breaking."
And, state Rep. John Velis said "this program is a popular subject across the state, one which has the support to grow."
Other officials attending the open house included Federal Aviation Administration Regional Administrator Amy Corbett; MassDOT Aeronautics Division Administrator Jeff DeCarlo and Christopher J. Willenborg, executive director of the state's Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force who once served as director at Barnes Regional Airport and more recently state aeronautics director.
"Massachusetts has more than 50 companies involved in aviation maintenance. This program at WTA will make sure they have qualified workers for the growth in aviation and the school now plays a very important role in meeting the future needs of aviation," Willenborg said.
DeCarlo said "This is an outstanding opportunity for high school students and is the result of industry, academia and government working together. This is the beginning of a great positive momentum for education."
WTA principal Stefan Czaporowski and Aviation Maintenance instructor Galen Wilson said the program now has a total of 8 aircraft as instructional tools for the program.
The newest is a Q200 Quickee Aircraft, a composite trainer, Wilson said. That aircraft along with a single engine Cherokee were parked in the school parking lot and served as props for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The program occupies four classrooms at WTA along with a hangar, now undergoing renovation, at Barnes Regional Airport.
Aviation Maintenance Technology is the only program offered at WTA that requires enrollment in each of the four years students attend the high school. Freshmen enrolling must remain in the program during their sophomore, junior and seniors years at the school.
Freshman Keeley J. Meyer, 15, of Granville, is one of only two female students in the first aviation maintenance program class.
"My family has some aviation background and we talked about the program and the opportunities is offers during my freshmen exploratory weeks at the school. This is an amazing program. It will be hard but so far it is really enjoyable," Meyer said.
Story and photo: http://www.masslive.com