Aviation Scholarship Program Aims to Bring Students into Wichita - Higher Education
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Aviation Scholarship Program Aims to Bring Students into Wichita

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As part of a new scholarship program, Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology (WSU Tech) is offering to pay for training and relocation fees and provide students in the field of aviation with employment opportunities upon completion.

A process mechanic painter

Wichita, Kansas is “experiencing rapid growth in their aviation and manufacturing operations,” according to WSU Tech. To help meet job demands, the program – Wichita Promise Move – will relocate students who live at least 75 miles outside of Wichita into the area.

“We have a lot of jobs available in Wichita and we want to grow the population for those jobs,” said WSU Tech president Dr. Sheree Utash. “There is a definite industry need. There is a definite opportunity for people outside of Wichita to become more aware of that career opportunity and move to Wichita and start a career in aviation in the ‘air capital of the world.’”

It’s a good opportunity for nontraditional students, Utash noted.

“I just think it’s a great opportunity for any young person or even an adult that maybe finds themselves in a place where they want to retrain and retool into a new career,” she said. “The aviation industry is an incredible career field. These two trainings are beginning basic trainings of which anybody could go into the industry and then continue their education beyond that in order to move through a full career in the aviation industry.”

In addition to paying for relocation, the scholarship program will cover the cost-of-living expenses in downtown Wichita, and there is potential to earn a sign-on bonus. The program, which is affiliated with the National Center for Aviation Training, also will provide students with career coaching such as mock interviews and resume-writing help.

Two training programs available: aviation sheet metal assembly and process mechanic painter. Sheet metal assembly is an eight-week program that focuses on blueprints, drilling and riveting. Process mechanic painting is a seven-week program and targets safety and paint application in the aviation industry, according to Utash.

Dr. Sheree Utash

Each program is 40 hours a week, and students will receive a work ethics credential and safety training WSU to become certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“We hope to give students the ability to obtain a high-paying aviation job,” said James Hall, WSU Tech dean of Aviation Technologies. “The training offered at WSU Tech not only provides technical training in the students’ chosen career pathway, but it also gives them training in the soft skills needed to make them a successful employee.”

Following the training, students are guaranteed job interviews at major aviation companies such as Textron Aviation Inc. and Spirit AeroSystems. Wichita has supply chains and smaller organizations that will provide the students with job interviews, as well.

The idea for the scholarship program originated in 2016, but at the time it was only for Wichita residents. Hundreds of students were able to receive training and then eventually become employed at aviation and manufacturing companies. After WSU Tech was awarded $500,000 from the Wichita Community Foundation, they were able to expand the program to target out-of-area students, according to Utash.

Potential applicants must meet the eligibility requirements of a high school diploma or GED, United States citizenship, being above the age of 17 and maintaining a 2.5 GPA throughout the program. Additionally, students must be able to pass a drug test, math assessment and background check.

The program will accept up to 50 eligible students, and classes will begin in September and October. The application can be found on WSU Tech’s website.

Sarah Wood can be reached at swood@diverseeducation.com.

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