Vice President Joe Biden was addressing the crowd of community college presidents set to receive federal grants for new college programming. They were sitting in a conference room at the White House and Biden was at the lectern explaining the importance of grant funding for innovative programming that connected education to jobs. Suddenly, he zeroed in on an audience member.
“Would you smile, Mr. President?” he asked a man sitting in the front row. “I think we mustn’t have given the president of Cape Cod Community College enough money. You gotta smile a little, man!”
Cape Cod Community College President John Cox was, indeed, sitting in the audience, and had no idea he wasn’t smiling. Apparently, when Cox isn’t smiling, he looks a tad serious. Utterly thunderstruck by being called out, Cox laughed and shook his head. No one was more delighted and grateful than he for the grant that would allow for the creation of a Cape Cod Community College aviation maintenance program.
“On the inside I’m laughing wildly,” Cox informed the vice president.
Today, Cox can’t tell the story without laughing wildly on the outside. He was the only one to be singled out during the momentous occasion that capped several years of hard work, including meetings with pilots and flights to India to rendezvous with aviation experts there.
“This is why people don’t sit in the front row,” Cox added, smiling. “It became one of those memorable career moments!”
Cox is president of Cape Cod Community College for a reason; he gets the job done. And this is one job he can’t help bursting with pride about.
Thanks to all that hard work and that federal grant, Cape Cod Community College is launching its Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Plymouth Municipal Airport, featuring airframe and powerplant training. The one-year, full-time accelerated certificate program includes general studies, airframe structures, airframe systems and components, powerplant theory, systems and component and three general education classes for a total of 57 credits that culminates in an Aviation Maintenance Technology certificate.
Students who opt to continue the program for completion of their associate’s degree in Applied Science will complete an additional 22 to 23 credits of the required course of study. The 57 credit hours, AMT program fees, FAA certification fees and CCCC health insurance, if needed, runs approximately $22,000. Financial aid is available to those who qualify, including government grants, Title IV, scholarships and other government sources.
Cox led the way through the nearly 18,000-square-foot training facility at 246 South Meadow Road at the airport as workers put the finishing touches on the sparkling new classrooms and spotless hangars, which already feature dismembered planes ready for examination and repair. Industry professionals have also donated fully functioning planes.
“This is a phenomenal win for Cape Cod Community College, with community, state, federal and private industry support,” Cox said. “At the end of the course study you sit for the FAA license exam. You complete that and the world is yours.”
He’s not kidding. Demand for aircraft mechanics is high, and graduates of this program will leave and launch their career immediately. Cox explained that airlines hire experts with this certification, then train them on the jumbo jets for maintenance and mechanical careers that promise good salaries and benefits. Graduates of the program are also ready for careers in elevator repair and power plants and careers involving turbine generators; the skill set is the same.
Three years ago, this program was just an idea in Cox’s mind. He met with Cape Air President Dave Bushy in an effort to learn about the jobs in the industry. It turned out aircraft mechanics were in big demand, and several airports, including Logan, were on the lookout. The conversation led to more research and two trips to India, where he met with the Indian presidents of Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin. Cox encouraged them to push for tax changes that would allow them to repair their jets in their own country. As it stands, Cox said India’s taxes and fees are so high that airlines send their planes to European sites for the repairs, meaning the country also misses out on the jobs this work generates.
By contrast, CCCC’s new aviation mechanics program will generate jobs and careers for many in the region. The program’s director is Michael Wahler, who logged 35 years as a Coast Guard mechanic.
CCCC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology training facility is just one more way colleges are connecting the dots between jobs and education.
The AMT program already boasts about 25 students ready for the spring semester. Cox encouraged anyone interested in signing up for the program to visit capecod.edu/aviation.