Rock Valley College's aviation maintenance training program Rock Valley College

AAR Collaborates with Neighboring School on Workforce Pipeline

Rock Valley College—located near AAR’s facilities at Chicago-Rockford International Airport—is the latest school added to the MRO’s workforce pathway program.

The latest school to join AAR’s workforce pathway program is located just across the street from the MRO provider’s heavy maintenance hangar at Chicago-Rockford International Airport. Rock Valley College (RVC) is partnering with AAR for its EAGLE (ethics, airworthiness, greatness, leadership, engagement) Career Pathway program, which will help expand training and career prospects for students within the school’s aviation maintenance technology program.

The MRO’s pathway program provides academic support, reimbursements for tuition and moving expenses, and a guaranteed job interview with AAR once students matriculate from the program. Job shadowing and mentoring opportunities with AAR will also expand the college’s aviation maintenance technology curriculum. According to Greg Dellinger, director of talent acquisition strategy at AAR, the school’s close proximity will provide students with opportunities to see AAR’s heavy aircraft maintenance work firsthand in addition to the other benefits provided through the program. Students will be paired with an AAR employee for mentoring and job shadowing, and will also gain access to the company’s priority software solutions for real-time tracking, monitoring and predictive maintenance.

“The college has had a great partnership with AAR and the EAGLE Career Pathway program will make that connection even stronger,” says Doug Jensen, president, RVC. “EAGLE will open up even more opportunities for our students, providing stackable skills and certifications that lead directly to jobs at AAR, and financial assistance to continue their education and advance their careers.”

According to a spokesperson for RVC, the school’s relationship with AAR began before the MRO set up shop in Rockford and while RVC was building its Aviation Career Education Center at the Chicago-Rockford International Airport. AAR and RVC collaborated in 2016 to build a 40,000 sq. ft. widebody MRO facility at the airport, which helped enrollment in RVC’s A&P program rise from approximately 40 students to its full capacity of 170.

Dellinger says creating a pipeline of aircraft technicians directly into the maintenance hangar was “the secret sauce” of the MRO hangar project. RVC’s spokesperson adds that the collaboration was mutually beneficial for both parties.

“Knowing they would have a pipeline of well-educated talent ready to meet the staffing needs of their massive operation here at the airport was almost certainly a big factor in AAR’s decision to come to Rockford,” he says. “On the flip side, knowing the opportunity for a great career at AAR was an option likely led to many of our students deciding to pursue that career through RVC’s program.”

AAR currently employs around 3,500 technicians across its repair stations in North America, as well as its MRO facility in Nagpur, India, which is scheduled to open early this year. The company recently announced partnerships with Western Michigan University and Olive-Harvey College in Chicago as part of the pathway program. Dellinger says AAR is “really in the trenches” with building EAGLE and a number of new schools being added to the program will be announced in the coming weeks. The company is targeting schools located near its five U.S. aircraft maintenance facilities.

RVC’s aviation maintenance technology program offers an FAA-certified program in aviation maintenance as well as A&P certification programs. The college currently has a variety of aircraft for students to work on at its maintenance hangar, including three single reciprocating engine powered aircraft, a twin turboprop, a twin turbojet and a single reciprocating engine powered helicopter.

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