The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) is taking steps to cement its ranking as Forbes’ top U.S. technical trade school for 2017. With an ever-growing forecasted demand for maintenance technicians, PIA has decided to grow its facilities to keep pace. After approximately 10 months of construction, PIA will open a new expansion of its Youngstown-Warren branch this Wednesday, Sept. 20. The two-story, 8,500 sq. ft. teaching facility at Hangar 3 of Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is intended to broaden opportunities for students by providing new teaching resources.
“Our investment in our facilities and our students is in response to strong career demand,” says President and CEO of PIA Suzanne Markle. “We look forward to the opportunity to serve new students and prepare them with the entry-level technical skills we know our employers seek.”
The new $1.3-million facility includes electrical and welding classrooms, an aeronautics lab and a student resource center with a computer lab. According to PIA, the growing student enrollment created a need for additional space—and new space allowed existing facilities to be renovated for a dedicated welding shop, painting area and electronics lab.
The new facility’s adjacent hangar includes specialized shop areas for aircraft propulsion systems, composite materials, electricity, welding and more. In addition, PIA was able to acquire a Learjet 25 for students to use as a training aid thanks to PIA alumnus Jacob Kudrin, who now works for NASA Glenn Research Center.
PIA’s Youngstown Branch, which has been in operation since 2006, touts a 94% placement rate and an average ratio of 10 students for every instructor. Students graduate the 16-month Aviation Maintenance Technology diploma program with qualifications for the Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certification. According to Steven Sabold, PIA director of marketing and information technology, the Youngstown Branch has 70 students and expects to increase that number to near 100 by the end of next fall.
“Working with aviation employers, community leaders and representatives within the school districts to create a loud and clear message is vital to helping combat the unprecedented demand for skilled technicians,” says Sabold.
To give students a running start, PIA has also announced an education partnership with Delta Air Lines aimed at filling the airline’s demand for qualified aviation maintenance technicians. PIA’s campuses in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Hagerstown and Myrtle Beach are four of the airline’s carefully selected schools that will give students a fast-track to employment with Delta. PIA graduates will have the opportunity to work with one of Delta’s regional carriers, such as SkyWest Airlines or Endeavor Air (both of which already regularly hire PIA graduates), before being considered for employment with Delta.
Sabold says the partnership is still in its early stages, but will likely also involve Delta providing training materials and equipment to PIA so students will have the opportunity to work directly with components they would encounter in the Delta maintenance environment.