05.04.09

Leahy Announces $1 Million Federal Appropriation For Burlington Technical Center Aviation Technology Program

NASA Funding Will Develop Advanced Curriculum And Plan For New State-Of-The-Art Facility At Burlington International Airport

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Monday that he had secured a $1 million NASA grant for the Burlington Technical Center's Aviation Technology Center during a press conference at the Aviation Technology Center at the Burlington International Airport.  Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured the funds in the annual appropriations bill passed by the Congress signed into law by President Obama earlier this year.

The Aviation Technology Program teaches high school students, college students, and non-traditional students avionics, basic engineering skills, metal working, electronics and many other aviation-related skills, preparing them to test for the Federal Aviation Administration's Airframe and Powerplant certificate -- a must-have certification that makes students extremely valuable in the workforce.  These high-skills, high-wage jobs are in great demand in Vermont and across the nation.  Leahy said the new funding will allow the tech center to expand its current curriculum, faculty, training equipment, and facilities.  The Burlington Technology Center, the City of Burlington, Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO), the Burlington International Airport and the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC) are currently designing a new multi-million dollar facility to expand the Aviation Technology Program at the airport.

“I believe one of the most important things we as Vermonters can do to stimulate economic growth and keep this airport healthy is to invest in our future workforce,” Leahy said.  “The Burlington Technology Center’s Aviation Program meets the needs of some of Burlington’s most vital employers -- delivering highly-skilled employees to an industry that is struggling to find good workers nationwide.”

"Students who graduate from the Aviation Technology Program at the Burlington Technical Center get more than a degree," said Rick Sylvester, the Aviation Technology Program's director.  "Our high school students leave this program with an unparalleled understanding of mechanics and real-life job skills that will hopefully lead them to further education and careers in the aviation field.  With any luck these students will work and live here in Vermont.  The post-secondary students leave the program with a certificate that all-but guarantees them a high-paying job in a growing field."

"The Burlington International Airport is a key economic driver for the City of Burlington," said Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss.  "The impact on the city and the state goes far beyond business travel and tourism -- it is an entire sector that includes general aviation, manufacturing, and services.  By investing in the Burlington Technical Center's Aviation Technology Program, Senator Leahy and the federal government are investing in one of Burlington's most important economic engines."

According to a 2007 study conducted for the Burlington International Airport, over the next 10 years, an estimated $225 million in new federal, state, local, and private investment is expected to be made at the Burlington International Airport, creating 365 new jobs at the airport and 500 indirect jobs elsewhere in Vermont.  Since this technical center program is the only one of its type in Vermont, the center’s expansion project will increase its capacity to train Vermonters for high-skill, high-wage jobs, which will help keep Vermont’s bright, young technicians contributing to the Vermont economy.

Leahy, who serves as honorary co-chair of the Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association (VAAA), was joined by the VAAA's chairman, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, representatives of the aviation industry, students from the Burlington Technical Center's Aviation Technology Program, representatives of Vermont Technical College and others to celebrate the new grant.

The Burlington Technical Center will hold an open house at the Aviation Technology Center’s Burlington International Airport location on Valley Road in South Burlington adjacent to the airport on Saturday, May 16th, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

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