BOAZ, Ala. – The Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham now serves as an off-campus instructional site for Snead State Community College’s Aviation College.
Initial discussions of the partnership between the College and museum began approximately three years ago with the goal of reaching inner-city high school students with training opportunities in the Aviation Maintenance career field.
“(Snead State Director of Workforce Development) Teresa Walker and I, along with Dr. Brian Barsanti and Melissa Morgan of the Southern Museum of Flight, began discussing the opportunity to start a dual enrollment program,” said Dr. Greg Randall, who is Snead State’s Executive Project Director of Workforce Enhancement. “Snead State is the closest Aviation College to the Birmingham area.
“This partnership in education between the Southern Museum of Flight and Snead State signifies a commitment to provide high demand training for high school students seeking a career in Aviation Maintenance.”
The dual enrollment program will include the Jefferson County School System, Birmingham City School System, and the Tarrant City School System. More will be added as interest grows across the area, Dr. Randall said.
“Snead State is happy to assist our aviation industry partners with their workforce training needs,” Walker said. “Our partnership and new location at the Southern Museum of Flight gives us the capability to bring classes to the Birmingham area to better serve aviation businesses in Alabama.”
After plans for the instructional site were approved by SACSCOC, the College’s accrediting organization, Dr. Barsanti and the museum began a renovation process that included the conversion of a hangar into three classrooms with a hands-on lab area.
In addition to dual enrollment, Snead State has also established a non-credit workforce training plan to offer professional Aviation courses at the site.
“The Southern Museum of Flight is closely situated to the 117 Air Refueling Wing,” Dr. Randall said. “This close proximity provides current aviation maintenance professionals the opportunity to take classes at the museum to prepare for the FAA Airframe and Powerplant license. The museum is an FAA testing center. This partnership allows individuals seeking the FAA license to have a one stop shop for training and testing.”
In the future, Dr. Randall said Snead State will open classes for traditional students to earn a college degree in Aviation at the new site and provide an avenue for students to test for the FAA Airframe and Powerplant license. However, for now, the goal is to establish the dual enrollment courses for the Fall 2023 semester.
Partnerships such as the one between Snead State and the Southern Museum of Flight, where the goal is to develop the workforce, are vital to the future of the aviation industry.
“When we unveiled our Aviation Workforce Initiative, we recognized that the aviation industry will most certainly need to adopt innovative training solutions to meet a host of personnel demands associated with fleet growth, attrition and ‘Baby Boomer’ retirements,” Dr. Barsanti said. “As hundreds of thousands of pilots and technicians reach retirement age over the next decade in our industry, educational and career pathway programs will be essential to inspiring, recruiting, and training the next generation of personnel.
“Regarding maintenance technicians in particular, the Southern Museum of Flight’s Aviation Workforce Initiative aims to address the projected shortfall of more than two hundred thousand trained personnel in North America alone over the next twenty years. We launched our initiative with the intent to fill gaps, and we will continue to do so as our programs grow, and our offerings expand. The incredible job that Snead State Community College was doing to already fill these identified gaps made a collaboration with the Aviation College at Snead State a perfect match for such an endeavor.”
To learn more, Snead State will host an Open House event to celebrate the new instructional site June 22 from 3-6 p.m. at the Southern Museum of Flight, located at 4343 73rd St. N, Birmingham, AL 35206. To learn more about the Snead State’s Aviation College overall, visit www.snead.edu/aviation.