“My main concern is that students have viable skills to enter the
job market,” said José Luna, TPS Hispanic outreach
coordinator. “The whole thing that you have to go to college to
be a good candidate for the labor market is not necessarily
Luna cites labor market statistics that show eight of ten in-demand
jobs are in the career-tech area.
“That means that many kids can get a good, high-paying job, or
start out at minimum and end up high (on a wage scale),” he
said. “By minimum, I mean starting out at $40,000 a year with a
Northwest Ohio is reflective of the entire country, where skilled
tradespeople are in short supply, a fact that will only get
worse as baby-boomers reach retirement age. Part of the reason
for that is the decades-old push for kids to attend a four-year
college. Luna stated the average age of an airplane mechanic is
well into his 50’s.
“This guarantees kids coming out of there a job their entire life,”
Luna said. “There’s a very real shortage of airplane mechanics.
They’ll also receive a variety of other certifications through
that program, including a hydraulics certification.”
The TPS Hispanic outreach coordinator stated that kids love to hear
that the hydraulics certification qualifies them to work on
rides at amusement parks such as Six Flags or Cedar Point.
While the free program is hosted by TPS, the
Aviation Maintenance Technology Training Center is open to any
high school student in Ohio. In addition to a high school
diploma, students earn an FAA-issued Airframe and Powerplant
Rating (A&P) License, 60 college credits and some students
actually receive an Associate’s Degree in Aviation Maintenance
Technology from Eastern New Mexico University upon high school
Despite being a high-school level training program, it also is
an Federal Aviation Administration Part 147 Certified Aviation
Maintenance Technician school.
TPS officials make no bones about how challenging the program
can be. Promotional materials indicate
students get countless hours of hands-on practical experience in
addition to classroom instruction. Students design and construct
sheet metal projects, learning the art of airframe construction
and in-depth maintenance, inspections and repairs to actual
Students learn about, disassemble, inspect, and rebuild numerous
aircraft engines, both reciprocating and turbine. They learn
about all the components and parts that make the engines run.
And, once built, students put engines in test stands and run
them. The TPS Aviation Center won the top prize in 2009 and 2010
at a nationwide competition of high school aviation centers.
Based on the forecasted volume of new aircraft deliveries, there
will be an increase in demand for aircraft maintenance
technicians (AMTs) worldwide. Adding in the demographics of the
current AMT workforce in North America, instructors believe the
AMT shortage may be approaching sooner than projected.
Luna stated that TPS only offered transportation to the Aviation
Center for Bowsher High School students in the past, but
will open up the transport from every TPS high school starting
next academic year. That means students can still attend their
home school and be eligible for the program at the Aviation
Center. He’s hoping that will draw their attention to a career
“Usually when you talk to kids about careers, they mention the
usual seven: doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, policeman, fireman,
and professional athlete,” he said. “The odds of becoming a
professional athlete are almost like winning the lottery. That’s
not a realistic idea, but that’s what they see. My goal is to
expose them to as many different professions as I can.”
Luna recently learned from Aviation Center officials that a recent
graduate is now living in Europe and working for Boeing. The
students who went on the tour are from Start, Woodward,
and Waite high schools, which each have a heavy Latino