A projection of the planned building to be constructed near the Glendale Airport. The new facility is scheduled to open in fall of 2011 and will provide students education in aviation maintenance technician certification.

Educational opportunity is soaring high for students interested in aviation technology as the Glendale City Council unanimously approved Western Maricopa Educational Center (West-Mec) building an aviation technology school, on 6.4 acres near the Glendale Airport. The 41,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in the fall 2011 and the strength of its work force is projected to include about 50 employees.

Deputy City Manager Jim Colson predicts that the completed building, development of the land and landscaping will enhance Glendale Airpark and the surrounding sports and entertainment district.

Ground has already been broken for construction, which resulted in creating 200 construction jobs and ultimately will generate up to 50 permanent jobs. West-MEC, a public high school overlay district with more than 25,000 students, will use the new school to teach students to service and repair aircraft including engines, landing gear and electrical systems. Upon completion of the program, students may test for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Maintenance Technician certification.

Once students have completed the schooling and have passed the exam, they will be eligible to apply for positions with any aviation maintenance and repair facility across the nation. Local examples of employment opportunities could be Southwest Airlines, or aviation companies at the Glendale Municipal Airport.

Cliff Migal, Assistant Superintendent and Program Director at West-MEC, said students who complete the course work and successfully pass the test will be eligible for 300 to 350 jobs available each year within the industry, at wages of $18 to $21 an hour.

West-MEC anticipates enrollment with initially 150 students per academic year and projection for growth, including future buildup to include industry training for adults.

Colson said the program will provide 125 to 150 young residents with opportunities to become technically proficient and successfully compete for well-paying jobs in a dynamic and sustainable industry.

"The type of education that West-MEC provides is very important because it really focuses on providing technical skills and training to young people so that they can compete in today's market place," Colson said.

Classes offered will be Aviation Technologies Core Curriculum, Aviation Airframe and Power plant I and II, Aviation Technologies Advanced Systems. Thecourses must be completed in succession and the program meets four and a half hours a day, Monday through Friday. The program will also meet 62 days over two summers to meet the 1,944 hours of required FAA instruction. Once a student has completed the curriculum and is at least 18 years old, he/she is eligible to take the final exam for certification known as the Aviation Maintenance Technician exam.

Each level class includes content in the repair and maintenance of the aircraft, including electricity, turbine, reciprocating engines, aircraft finishes, sheet metal, welding, landing gears, hydraulics, and propellers.

Assistant Deputy City Manager Julie Frisoni conveyed the importance of education to the City of Glendale and keeping educational facilities accessible to local students.

"If you look at Glendale and the relationship the city has with Glendale Community College, Midwestern University, and the Thunderbird Graduate School; it's clear that Glendale values our relationship with these educational facilities," Frisoni said. "So, this just continues that trend of Glendale really working hard to become an educational hub and to provide educational opportunities for all residents to further their education and their skills in this type of economy."

The city has been working with West-MEC on the project for several months now. However, West-MEC had originally approached the city with its proposed intentions for the school roughly a year ago.

"West-MEC has really made an incredible commitment to the City of Glendale, not only by opening this school and giving another educational opportunity in the city, but also by opening their headquarters in our city; they have made a substantial investment in and with the City of Glendale. We are very thankful, grateful and excited about West-MEC's commitment to the city," Frisoni said.

The new tech school is the second big news for West-MEC IN Glendale. West-MEC has also chosen the Glendale Corporate Center at 99th Avenue and Camelback for its new corporate headquarters and training center. The two buildings on site equal 42,500 square feet and were purchased for $5.1 million. The new facility will immediately be home to 27 West-MEC employees. In addition, West-MEC's focus is on career and technical education and the training center at the new corporate office will also be used by up to 300 people a day for professional development classes and seminars.

"West-MEC was experiencing phenomenal growth and had a need for more space for their students and administrators and we were pleased to help them transition into their two new homes in Glendale," Glendale Economic Development Director Brian Friedman said. "Education continues to be one of our top targeted industries that we consistently work with, which will attract new business, new jobs and new tax dollars to Glendale."

"West-MEC selected this site for our training center and district corporate offices after considering its affordable cost, its ideal location and ultimately because of a long-standing and supportive relationship between West-MEC and the City of Glendale," West-MEC Superintendent Gregory Donovan said. "The City of Glendale is our partner in education and we look forward to bringing opportunities to Glendale and surrounding communities."

For more information on West-MEC, call 623-435-4944, or visit www.west-mec.org.