Ever since his arrival at Cape Cod Community College in 2012, President John Cox has made the development of his proposed FAA certified airframe and power plant program an institutional priority. President Cox’s signature program was dealt a significant setback when Governor Patrick vetoed the program’s $1.95 million start-up funding last week.
Cape Cod Today contacted Dr. Cox yesterday to find out what’s next for his program.
As with all Cape Cod Today virtual interviews, his responses are published in their entirety, without editing or redaction, in the order the questions were originally presented.
Cape Cod Today: Now that the governor vetoed the $1.95 million allocation for the FAA certified airframe and power plant program, is the program dead? If not, what are your options for moving forward without state funding?
President Cox: Even though the Governor vetoed our funding for this high-demand, workforce development program that will lead to professional FAA-certification, Cape Cod Community College is looking at options to move forward to enable student success. As an aside, I find it helpful to add some clarity about the program title, “Airframe and Powerplant.” This technical program involves training about the body of the plane, or airframe, and the engine, or powerplant. These are some of the professionals that ensure our airplanes fly safely.
We are aggressively working with our legislative delegation and others to advance the program. The legislature may consider an override that would enable us to stay on schedule for a Fall 2015 start date. One outcome of the loss of state investment would likely be a longer time frame to ramp up this program to capacity. The conversations are on-going, but our commitment has not changed.
Cape Cod Today: Your proposed program was to serve approximately 65 students. How many of those trained graduates would likely have found jobs on Cape Cod? What about inside Massachusetts?
President Cox: The program is looking at two cohorts of 25 students for the full-time, 12 month training along with one half-time cohort that opens the options to students currently working or dual enrolled in high school. This is also an option for continuing professional development. The 65 students represent the student level around which we are configuring the program. Considering global aircraft giant Boeing is projecting 600,000 jobs worldwide in just the next decade; and right here at home the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting thousands of retirements, and increasing demand as air travel’s growth continues, this becomes a clear pathway to prosperity.
We know we will have an on-going number of students entering the training from across the Cape to support careers that are locally available. We also know there is regional demand for training and graduates will be able to seek jobs across Massachusetts.
Based on our discussions with several air carriers, a great deal of required FAA maintenance must be done at locations far from their home bases. With jobs paying $45,000-$65,000 to start, the potential to change lives here and to bring trainees to the Cape to what will be a “destination” program is solid, and good for the Cape. We know that once people come, for whatever reason, they want to return. So this program’s impact is likely far greater across the region that simply the training it will provide.
Cape Cod Today: How much money has Cape Cod Community College spent so far on developing this program?
President Cox: The College has invested approximately $50,000 for development of the curriculum, securing several in-kind aircraft and aircraft parts contributions, examining available instructional facilities, and meeting with FAA personnel that will be responsible for review and approval of the program. There have also been a great many hours from college staff participating in the development.
Cape Cod Today: Do you know why Governor Patrick targeted this particular program as part of the $16 million in appropriations that he rejected?
President Cox: We have had several conversations with a variety of state officials and our legislative delegation. The feeling seems to be that the Governor wished this proposal to have risen up through the Executive Office of Education and its processes rather than as a legislative initiative.
Time is of the essence. We have a solid workforce development program that aligns well with industry and will create career opportunities, and solid-taxpayers, for our graduates.