Snead State Community College recently held a special event to launch the newest addition to its programs of study – Aviation.
Local officials, community members, Snead State administrators, faculty and staff and students gathered at the Aviation College near the Albertville Regional Airport to celebrate the much-anticipated addition.
“This is a really enormously pleasing day for all of us. It has taken a while to get here. This is my 11th year at Snead State. When I arrived, there was conversation of having an (Aviation Airframe Technology and PowerPlant Technology) program here in Albertville. We opened this program…but it was half a program – Airframe. We’ve expanded that program with lots of support from all different arenas, and beginning this fall (2018), we fully anticipate enrolling students in both Airframe and PowerPlant. It’s just a tremendous success for us,” said Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley.
Dr. Exley credited the work of former Alabama House of Representative Frank McDaniel, Enterprise Ozark Community College President Matt Rogers, the Marshall County Legislative Delegation, and the City of Albertville for their support and assistance in not only expanding the aviation program but in transitioning the program from Enterprise to Snead State.
“This is certainly an exciting day for Albertville,” said Mayor Tracy Honea. “I think it is very evident that there’s a very bright future for not only Albertville but also for a lot of Alabama. I can’t say enough about Dr. Exley and his leadership throughout this process.”
The Marshall County Legislative Delegation – Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville, and Rep. David Standridge, R-Hayden – were on hand to offer their congratulations and express their excitement about the future of the Aviation program at Snead State.
“I’ve learned a lot in a short time about aviation and what it means to the rural areas. It was eye opening,” said Rep. Standridge. “They brought me to (the Aviation College) and shared their vision of where they want (this program) to go and what it could mean to this region and statewide. When everybody comes together, this is what can happen. It’s a great day for Albertville and for this region of the state.”
Sen. Scofield, who also serves on Snead State’s Foundation Board of Directors, also spoke of the hard work of all parties involved to expand the Aviation program and to bring it under the guidance of Snead State Community College.
“If you know me, you know I love Snead State. What a special thing we have right here at home in Marshall County with an historic educational institution. The success of this program now rests with us. We now have local control of the success of this institution and this program. When you leave here today, don’t let it leave you. It’s up to all of us to see that this program succeeds. Take it with you today. Helps us to market this and help us to make this a success. If this program is successful, our communities will continue to be successful,” said Sen. Scofield.
The Aviation College currently has students enrolled in Aviation Technology, which trains students in repair of all parts of an aircraft with the exception of the engine. Pending final Federal Aviation Administration approval, Snead State will begin enrolling students in the PowerPlant Technology program, which focuses on the skills needed to repair aircraft engines, as early as the Fall 2018. The Aviation program provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to take the FAA written, oral and practical examinations required for certification as aviation maintenance technicians.
President and CEO of Pioneer Aviation Marlin Priest, who also serves on the College’s Aviation Program Advisory Board, spoke of the availability of jobs in the Aviation field and of the demand for qualified workers to fill those jobs.
“To have a facility like this in a community like this in an area poised for growth like this area, with all of the opportunities that are before us, is huge,” said Mr. Priest. “When we weren’t sure how we were going to get (the transfer and expansion of the program) done, we just put our heads down and kept moving because I could see the other side. What other people see as a horizon could just be a rut in the road. You’ve got to put your head up higher and see the world that exists beyond the horizon.
“We need on average 100 maintenance technicians per day to meet the worldwide demand today. We have an opportunity and a challenge. This facility is a diamond in the rough. With a little polish, it will just blossom and grow. Having a complete program here now is a huge signal to industry. This program is ready. Come watch us, come partner with us, come collaborate with us, come invest with us,” said Mr. Priest.
Snead State Director of Aviation Programs Dan Owen closed the special event sharing his experience working in the Aviation field for 45 years.
“(The Aviation industry) is a good career. It’ll take you places you’ve never seen before. It will give you the opportunity to see places you’ve never seen before if you so desire. You can go anywhere and work anywhere. You have that opportunity for growth and to develop in your career,” said Mr. Owen.
For more information about the Aviation Program at Snead State Community College, visit snead.edu/aviation.