Funds sought for aerospace tech center
Community Colleges of Spokane has about $2.75 million so far
Chey ScottJuly 15th, 2010
Community Colleges of Spokane is seeking $4 million in federal funds for the construction of a new Aerospace and Technology Center, to be used for Spokane Community College's aviation maintenacnce technology program, Spokane Falls Community College's flight training program, and a new aerospace apprenticeship program, says Joe Dunlap, SCC President.
CCS has made a request to the office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray for the funds, to be appropriated during the upcoming session of Congress. Dunlap says CCS won't know if the funds will be granted until the session ends this coming fall.
The $4 million would cover a large portion of the project costs, which Dunlap estimates will be much higher. The total cost of the project, however, won't be known until the building's plans have been completed, he says. Local donations for the project will be sought, and CCS also will contribute some of its construction budget to the project, he says.
So far, CCS has received $400,000 from Washington state to help pay for the building's design, Dunlap says. CCS also has set aside $500,000 from its own budget for the design, and he says bids for the design contract will be sought in a few months.
The Aerospace and Technology Center would be constructed on five acres of land that the Washington state Military Department formerly owned near Spokane International Airport, south across the airport from the main terminal complex and north of Interstate 90, Dunlap says. During last year's legislative session, the land was given to CCS, and it has an estimated worth of about $1.2 million, he says. So far, about $2.75 million has been secured for the project, including the $400,000 from the state and CCS's contributions, he says.
Currently, the aviation maintenance technology program for SCC is located at Felts Field, and SFCC's flight training program is located at SIA, Dunlap says. The new aerospace apprenticeship programwhich will train workers in field-specific areas, such as welding and machine toolingwill be in operation at Felts Field by the time fall quarter starts, before the center is complete, but eventually will be moved to the new center, he says.
The relocation of the programs would allow them to grow after the project is completed, he says.
Dunlap says about 100 aerospace workers will be trained at the new center each year, and around 10 faculty and staff members will be employed there, once the programs are moved and any new positions are filled.
Another focus of the new center will be the option for aerospace companies to train their employees there through customized programs, he says.
The state currently has two similar centers for aerospace technology, the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center, operated by Edmonds Community College, and the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing, in Snohomish County, operated by Everett and Edmonds community colleges.
If the federal funds are received, Dunlap says he would like to see the center completed by the fall of 2011. "If not, we will keep plugging along until we do put together adequate funding," he says.