New Aviation Center more than doubles student enrollment potential

For Sheena Nolin, August 20 was like celebrating a second birthday in the same calendar year. It was the day that marked the beginning of a new school year and an occasion where she was able to realize nearly every dream on her occupational wish list: new classrooms, new computer labs, new equipment, additional hangar space, and most importantly, a new building to house it all.

Ivy Tech’s new Aviation Center at Smith Field Airport is now open, and her more-than-yearlong wait since its groundbreaking is over.

“I couldn’t be happier with this center, seeing how it has been built to meet our modern-day needs rather than compromising the program to work in a less-than-ideal facility,” said Nolin, chair of the Aviation Maintenance Technology program.

Nolin, who has more than 20 years of industry experience, oversees the only aviation-related curriculum in the statewide Ivy Tech Community College system. In fact, the nearest program of its kind is about 80 miles away in southeast Michigan.

The need for a new address has been apparent with the five-year-old program, given its former 16,000-square-foot facility on Ludwig Road that provided challenges, from its limited storage capabilities to its two modest classrooms.

These concerns will no longer exist in the new 21,000-square-foot facility at Smith Field Airport, with its five classrooms, two computer labs, additional educational support equipment and space sufficient to accommodate all of the instructional aircraft in one hangar. The program will have the capacity for up to 200 students as well, more than doubling its previous enrollment potential.     

The center represents a $2.3 million investment by the Ivy Tech Foundation, which is being leased to the college. The land itself is being leased from Smith Field Airport as a part of a 50-year agreement.

Despite the welcome structural changes, one thing that will remain a constant is the relationship with Fort Wayne Community Schools’ Anthis Career Center, which has been a mainstay since the program’s inception. About 20 Anthis vocational students take classes in the program on a half-day basis each semester.

September 13 marked the official dedication of the new facility. One of the speakers was Joel Pierce, a student in the program and the flight operations director for Sweet Aviation, a flight training and aircraft rental business at Smith Field Airport.

“As Sweet Aviation grows, the number of job opportunities available for aircraft technicians will continue to grow, helping to provide newly minted technicians with a beginning job for their aviation careers,” Pierce said in his address.

And increased employment opportunities for her graduates are what Nolin may consider to be the icing on her birthday cake.


   $1.5 million Department of Labor aviation grant will help train displaced workers

The gloomy skies for hundreds of displaced workers in northeast Indiana are about to become considerably brighter due to a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Labor aviation maintenance training grant awarded to Ivy Tech Community College–Northeast on September 19.

During the next three years, the college’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program is poised to create 501 skilled aviation maintenance workers through accelerated certificate training.

Numerous aviation credentials are expected to be developed and issued, including those in quality and health safety, assembly mechanics, electrical assembly, composite repair, quality assurance and tooling. Ivy Tech–Northeast will work with regional and statewide partners Atlantic Aviation, Comlux America and Pinnacle Airlines to fulfill many of the grant’s objectives.

The college received the funding through its membership in the National Aviation Consortium, which was awarded a $14.9 million grant through the DOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program. The consortium was created by Wichita (Kan.) Area Technical College, which serves as the lead institution. Other member institutions include Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Wash.; Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, N.C. and Tulsa (Okla.) Community College.

The consortium’s primary objective is to provide accelerated training to 2,500 students to fill the current jobs that remain open due to an unskilled workforce in five states representing 35 counties. WATC received $8.7 million; ECC received $1.8 million; Ivy Tech–Northeast received $1.5 million and GTCC and TCC received $1.3 million each. 

“This grant will focus on training for TAA-eligible dislocated workers, veterans and others seeking work in the aviation industry,” said Jim Aschliman, executive director of Ivy Tech Corporate College in Fort Wayne. “With the recent dedication of our new $2.3 million Aviation Center at Smith Field Airport, the timing for this announcement could not have been better.”

See more photos from the Aviation Center Dedication:


Wichita (Kan.) Area Technical College recently donated nine turbine engines to Ivy Tech–Northeast for instructional purposes. Each turbine engine is valued at $8,000.


9 turbine engines donated to Ivy Tech’s aviation program

Nothing represents the perfect housewarming gift quite like a bottle of wine, fresh-cut flowers or nine turbine engines.

While the flowers and wine didn’t make the list for this particular occasion—the opening of the new Ivy Tech Aviation Center—the turbine engines did, and the college enthusiastically welcomed them.

Wichita (Kan.) Area Technical College donated the turbine engines, along with technical data, for student instructional purposes beginning this fall. The new equipment will allow for additional turbine engine classes to be added, doubling the previous capacity for such courses. 

“On a visit to WATC last spring, our instructors noticed engines that were being stored due to a recent windfall of other engines to that college. When their instructors noticed our interest, they discussed the situation and decided to ‘share the wealth’ and make a donation to our program,” said Sheena Nolin, Aviation Maintenance Technology program chair. “This attitude is part of the reason why WATC has such a high reputation in the aviation community.”

Each turbine engine is valued at $8,000. Fort Wayne-based Martin International’s specialized freight-shipping division delivered them in early August.