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Alamo Area Aerospace Academy Providing Education and Critical Training/Experience

A month ago I wrote about an education program that Airbus sponsors to help provide education as well as hands on training at the Airbus Lycée.  That article led to a couple of pretty in-depth discussions on LinkedIn that are actually still going.

The general consensus of those discussions was that the aviation industry as a whole needs to do a better job promoting themselves, and all of the various options that exist for jobs in aviation.  I for one think we also need to create more programs that provide better opportunities for young people to get training, and the all important “work experience”.

I came across another great program that is not only fostering aviation, but in some cases is leading to actual jobs.

The Alamo Area Aerospace Academy is one of four vocational training schools in the San Antonio area that puts students on the fast track to careers in various industries.  The Aerospace Academy was developed out of a need for workers at Lockheed Martin.  As their workforce was retiring they needed a pipeline for training young, new employees.  So they worked with the local government, community college, aerospace companies, and school districts to develop a program to get kids excited about aviation, and get them the necessary training.

The program lasts two years and includes a paid internship between the students’ junior and senior years.  During the school year the classes provide hands on training and experience while still earning students credit towards high school graduation, and even a good chunk of an associate degree.

This is exactly the type of program that we need more of in every industry, and especially in aviation.  It is far easier to get excited about education when you see the practical application of it.  The reality is that college is not for everyone, and that training like this can be far more valuable for many people than a four-year degree would ever be.

Apparently the program is creating the desired results as Lockheed Martin estimates that 20% of their direct hire workforce comes from the Aerospace Academy.  And, as I already mentioned, three other industries have developed similar academies to train their own workforce.

While this is not necessarily the right approach for everyone, or every industry, we need to develop more programs just like this.  Youth are ready to get excited about a career well before they reach college, and aviation needs to be there when they are developing that excitement.  If we want to attract the best and the brightest, we need to get them hooked earlier than we are right now.

What other programs could we create to help get young people excited about aviation, and prepare them for potential careers in the industry?

March 10, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus Building the Aviation Industry Through Education at the Airbus Lycée

Education is a huge part of my life.  It was ingrained into my head at a very early age that getting a good education is essential to success in life.  As I have grown older I have come  to learn that education has way more faces than just going to school where a teacher stands in front of a class and gives lessons.

One of my favorite recent lessons comes from Mark Cuban.  Admittedly, I have become enthralled by the things he says and writes since seeing him on the ABC show Shark Tank because he is always very real.  There are two blog pasts that he did in particular that struck a chord with me.  The first is entitled How to Get Rich, and the second is SharkTank & Success & Motivation.  What stuck out to me in these posts was the role that education played in his success.

He started out like many people with a Bachelor’s degree, but ultimately most of his education came from sources other than a traditional school.  He spent countless hours reading manuals, and books, and essentially anything that he could find that would help him better understand the things he was doing.  He saw every job he had as being paid to learn as opposed to paying to go to school.  He continues to value information as the thing that sets people apart.  The fact is that the information is out there, it is just a matter of whether or not we are willing to pursue it.

So what does any of this have to do with aviation, Airbus, and the Airbus Lycée?  Let me explain.

For over 60 years now the Airbus Lycée has been a Company Technical College, and is apparently one of the few such establishments that still exist in France.  Their program has four different focuses: Industrial Metalwork Technician; Machining Technician; Avionics Mechanic; Airframe Systems Mechanic.  This degree program would appear to be similar to many other aeronautical programs, but there is a distinct difference that I think is largely missing with most schools, especially in the US.

The first two years of this three year program are academic like most schools, but the third year is done under an apprentice status allowing the students to gain more practical knowledge as opposed to just book knowledge.  This apprentice year is invaluable when it comes to applying knowledge in a real world environment.  Experience is one of the biggest hurdles for students coming out of college, but this program provides both an education and experience.

Perhaps even more valuable is that the program takes place in the Airbus Saint-Eloi plant.  This allows students to interact with professionals from day one, gaining precious understanding of how the concepts they are learning are actually being used.  By sharing the same facilities, they are also able to gain an understanding of the corporate culture, and how they fit into it.

We need more education like this.  It is important to have a baseline understanding built from academics, but is is even more important to understand how those concepts are applied.  Reading about how a turbine engine works is a nice start, but actually opening up an engine and seeing how the parts fit together to make a device that is capable of creating enough thrust to lift a massive plane into the sky is an even higher level of understanding.

Airbus is doing themselves, and the industry as a whole, a great service by preparing these students for a career in aviation.  They are providing not only the book knowledge but the practical knowledge that can be so much harder to obtain.  It is this practical knowledge that truly sets people like Mark Cuban apart.  For those who are willing to go the extra mile and pursue this type of education, the rewards will be dramatically greater than for those who are simply pursuing a piece of paper after four years and tens of thousands of dollars.

For those fortunate enough to benefit from the Airbus Lycée they are holding their annual Open Day February 16th to explain their program and what they have to offer.

February 10, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.