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Expanded WMU Aviation Center To Meet The Needs Of A Growing Industry

New State-Of-The-Art Aviation Education Center Will Provide Additional Space For The College Of Aviation's Soaring Enrollment

Western Michigan University's new state-of-the-art Aviation Education Center will provide additional space for the College of Aviation's soaring enrollment, fueled by demand for pilots and aviation mechanics.

Groundbreaking for the new 67,000-square-foot instructional facility at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek May 10 drew praise by local economic development partners.

"Battle Creek Unlimited has enjoyed a close relationship with Western Michigan University's College of Aviation for over 20 years. Today, we are thrilled to see the College of Aviation break ground on its new state-of-the-art multimillion-dollar Aviation Education Center that will propel them to new heights. It is exciting to know that the next generation of pilots and aviation technicians will be trained and educated right here in Battle Creek," says Joe Sobieralski, president and CEO of Battle Creek Unlimited. "This is not only great for Western Michigan University, but it is also great for Battle Creek--it doubles-down on one of Battle Creek’s most strategic assets on the economic development front."

Completion of the $20 million building project—including a $15 million grant from the state—is expected in summer 2020, with classes beginning in the new space the following fall.

Construction at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek adds classroom space, a computer room, composites/paint laboratory upgrades, a state-of-the-art simulation center, a premier research center, student briefing rooms, faculty office space, a café and other amenities, as well as the latest technology.

The college has seen its enrollment grow 35 percent in the past five years to about 1,000 students as high job growth and demand for aircraft pilots, aircraft technicians and management place WMU in the position to be Michigan's major resource to prepare students for these jobs, says the college's dean, Dave Powell.

"We will increase our classrooms from four to 10, greatly improving the scope of our instruction and research capabilities," Powell says, adding the center will be built to LEED Silver standards. "The needs of our industry are tremendous, and these trends are expected to continue as projected increases in passenger traffic fuel the demand for these highly skilled, highly paid industry jobs."

It is anticipated that future demand for pilots, airline managers, administrators and maintenance personnel will significantly increase as the current workforce ages out of the marketplace and global demands for skilled aerospace professionals increases. The FAA projects that total airline passenger traffic is expected to double by the year 2032, and a recent Boeing Pilot and Technical Outlook report forecasts that by 2034, the aviation industry will need to supply more than 1 million new aviation personnel, including 558,000 pilots and 609,000 maintenance technicians.

Construction on the new center is expected to finish in summer 2020, with classes beginning in the space the following fall.

(Images provided with WMU news release)

FMI: www.wmich.edu

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